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Pastoral care is the missing link - ...as the body without the spirit is dead, so too faith without actions is dead (James 2:26) ...what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? (James 2: 14)
Pastoral care is keeping all the parts of the Body functioning at full capacity to ensure that the Body of Christ is effective and the Bride of Christ is ready.
Encouragement - affirming others ...be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another (Eph 4:32) - accepting diversity ...under Christ's control all the different parts of the body fit together (Eph 4: 16) - encourage individual talents ...all of you are Christ's body and each one is a part of it...(I Cor 12:27-30)
Kindness - furnish what is needed ...to your godliness add brotherly kindness and to your brotherly kindness add love (2 Peter 1:7)
Sharing - not taking over, but working alongside ... help carry one another's burdens (Gal 6: 2)
Growing - pain and troubles are part of the process of growing and developing our character ...your suffering shows that God is treating you as his children (Heb 12:7)
Love - love for others is the reason for our care ...we love because God first loved us (I John 4:19)
Care of the whole person - the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental elements cannot be separated. ...pure and genuine religion is..to take care of orphans and widows and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27) - meeting all the needs that may impact on a relationship with God and Christ so that they may dwell in us ...whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him (I John 4:16)
Nurture - developing a one-to-one relationship in a framework of trust ...remember this, whoever brings a sinner back from the error of their ways...(James 5:20)
Love your neighbour as yourself (Lev 19:18) - I matter to God and He is working in my life
We love because God first loved us (I John 4:19) - the fact that we matter to our family, friends and to God gives us powerful tools in this life
We are all parts of the one body (Eph 4:15f) - see our friends as assets and important to us and to God
Build each other up to the perfection of Christ ( Eph 4:13) - making time to care - reaching out, rather than waiting for the call
We share each other's emotions (I Cor 12:26) - can we be bothered to care?
The capacity to help others will depend on how we see ourselves - ...whatever else you get, get insight (Prov 4:7)
How we see ourselves is a result of our experience of a relationship with God and Christ - our relationship with God underpins our relationship with others - sets the motivation, the boundaries, our values, our abilities etc.
We need to know ourselves - who we are, what we believe, what makes us tick - we need to appreciate our own character and personality and thereby we can accept and affirm other's characters. - we need to realise our own talents and potential in order to affirm others.
Reaching out to others will strike a chord in ourselves. We need to acknowledge these buttons and where we are with our experiences and pain, weaknesses and strengths so that we do not get caught up with the other's pain and render ourselves useless. We need to have firm boundaries between what is ours and what belongs to someone else. Setting boundaries protects ourselves and helps others. We cannot take responsibility for another's actions and choices, only for our own caring.
We need to be open about our own experiences - whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love (Luke 7:47) - we are all on the growth process together. If we are honest with our feelings, firstly we do not give the wrong message about ourselves to others and therefore avoid loneliness, spiritual and emotional isolation and depression, but we also give permission to others to share, feel accepted and contained.
Allow the other to feel the pain and sadness and anger - be there to listen, contain and show that it can be heard - we will not run away from their pain or experiences - nothing is too heavy to share, anything can be thought about - we are in this together supporting each other - acknowledge how hard it is - do not dismiss or diminish the pain or the struggle - sit with the pain and do not look for answers.
Sometimes people are their own worst enemy and find it hard to ask for help, or do not recognise the need. At times we need to confront and challenge people and situations in a spirit of love. Matthew 18 tells us to confront a situation and eventually if all else fails to treat the brother as a pagan and tax collector. How should we treat these sort of people?
Confess your faults one to another - before Jesus healed anyone he asked them what was the problem and what they wanted. We too have to acknowledge our weaknesses before we can deal with them or ask God to take them from us. Part of the healing process is acknowledging and then grieving.
We need to make time for God and for finding out His will for us individually - meditation, prayer and Bible reading.
I Cor 13:4-7 - instead of 'love is...' insert 'I am...'
Christ was the great shepherd of the sheep. He fed his flock and gently led the young. He was moved with compassion. He touched the untouchables. He loved the unlovables. He gave his life for the sheep.
...the attitude you should have is the one Christ Jesus had... (Phil 2:5)