“I guess I’m not good at seeing spiritual thirst,” shared a pastor in my coaching group for 30 days for more spiritual conversations.
He had completed an assignment I had given him, found himself surrounded by nonbelievers in his social networks.
However, his image of personal evangelism was all about making a monologue presentation, rather than a conversation centered around a person’s spiritual thirst.
To increase the number of conversations helping people along in their faith, one needs to see spiritual thirst and know ways to respond to spiritual thirst.
What is Spiritual Thirst?
Spiritual thirst is a way of describing a person’s own search for God.
What motivates a person to seek after God? Why are they searching for God?
In the parable of the merchant searching for the fine pearl — he is propelled to find it because he knows it’s out there. He looks, and looks, and looks. There is a “thirst” to propel him to find it. When he doesn’t find it, he keeps looking. When he finds it, he has that “Eurkea” moment.
Gary Rhormeyer writes in Spiritual Conversations:
When a person is spiritually parched, they seek all sorts of ways to experience relief from their spiritual emptiness.
These could range from an all-out effort to achieve success by any measure to quieting this nagging need by numbing themselves with addictive substances and unbridled pleasure-seeking. (p. 31)
What does Spiritual Thirst look like?
As I’ve engaged people in all sorts of conversation, I have found some conversational themes that keep coming to the surface.
- Freedom from shame or guilt.
- Emotional Healing
- Physical Healing
- The need for guidance
- Purpose for life.
- Life is out of control (finances, drugs, circumstances)
- Soul care and self-help.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but are common ones that I run into regularly. I’ve learned to notice them when they come up in conversations.
Examples of Spiritual Thirst:
I was with my neighbor one afternoon. We and our kids were playing in the pool. Out of clear blue, he says to me: “Chris, how do you find forgiveness?”
Another time, a young man said to me: “I’ve got a question. Do the non-elect go to hell?”
In both these cases, their questions reflected their spiritual thirst.
These questions are not random questions, but something that gave me a window into their heart. Their spiritual thirst led them inquire and actively seek an answer to satiate the restlessness of their heart.
Seeing Spiritual Thirst
Rohrmayer points out a few other key insights about finding and noticing spiritual thirst.
1. Look for the current work of God in that person’s life.
If someone expresses interest in Jesus, the Bible or church…these are good signs. If people are taking steps forward such as attending events, worship services, small groups or if someone is open to a conversation with you on spiritual things…this is God at work.
2. Learn about their stories.
Getting people talking about themselves is key to discovering God’s work in their lives. The more you get them talking, the more you can see the hand of God at work in their lives. Remember, it is not about you, it is about them and their lives, their journey and their eternity.
ImageSource: Flickr, Department for International Development