One of the core skills of being a church member is being able to offer care and comfort to others. And contrary to cultural precedent, this is not the sole responsibility of the pastor. In fact, most “pastoral” care can be offered by non-clergy or laity.
The problem is that many church goers feel under equipped or ill-prepared for those conversations. (As a side note, so do I, despite having literally hundreds of hours of pastoral care visits). So I wanted to offer a few basic steps to offering care to someone you know in your church. These won’t make you a counselor or therapist, but they should help you be a better friend and church member. Some of them are fairly obvious, but worth restating. Continue reading
Life is a lot like trying to solve multiple puzzles at once. You’ve got your ‘family’ puzzle, where you sort out your relationships with parents and siblings. You’ve got your ‘school’ puzzle where you learn how to be responsible. And you’ve got a puzzle of your ‘dreams’ you’re trying to put together. Then as life goes on, your ‘school’ puzzle turns into ‘work/career’. Your ‘family’ puzzle gets a little bit bigger when you get married.
Now we all like to think that we can keep these puzzles together, in their respective boxes. But we’re kidding ourselves if we truly expect that to happen, because life happens. We move to college and it messes up our ‘school’ and ‘family’ boxes. We get fired from a job and it ruins our ‘job/career’ and ‘family’ puzzles. Eventually, we wind up with all of our puzzles just in one box; just a giant pile of pieces to a bunch of different puzzles. It’s super complicated and super messy.
And that’s not counting anyone else’s puzzles. Where is your spouse supposed to put their puzzles? You’ve already made a mess with yours?
Daniel made up his mind to eat and drink only what God had approved for his people to eat. And he asked the king’s chief official for permission not to eat the food and wine served in the royal palace. God had made the official friendly and kind to Daniel. But the man still told him, “The king has decided what you must eat and drink. And I am afraid he will kill me, if you eat something else and end up looking worse than the other young men.”
The king’s official had put a guard in charge of Daniel and his three friends. So Daniel said to the guard, “For the next ten days, let us have only vegetables and water at mealtime. When the ten days are up, compare how we look with the other young men, and decide what to do with us.” The guard agreed to do what Daniel had asked.
Ten days later, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better than the young men who had been served food from the royal palace. After this, the guard let them eat vegetables instead of the rich food and wine.
God made the four young men smart and wise. They read a lot of books and became well educated. Daniel could also tell the meaning of dreams and visions. [Daniel 1:8-17]
There are a few questions I think every pastor can count on hearing in their ministry. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been teaching on prayer on Sunday morning, which leads to one of those questions:
“Does God answer the prayers of the ungodly?”
Have you ever been at a church meeting or gathering, and asked for someone to pray? Let me just guess how it went: 80% of the people quickly closed their eyes and folded their hands to indicate their preparedness to pray silently and the other 20% is the pastor or Sunday school teacher.
When I ask someone else to pray, I usually looked at like I had just asked someone to be the lead in a Broadway Play without a script. The reason why they won’t pray is usually the same:
“I don’t know what to say”