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Lesson 6 - Personal Qualities Needed in Pastoral Care

Deep insight and extensive self-knowledge are prerequisites for successful pastoral care.
Only when we acknowledge our own motivation, passions, neurotic compulsions, doubts
and struggles can we expect to demonstrate care to others.
By evaluating our own experiences we can relate to the experiences of others.

We must have a genuine caring spirit for ordinary people.
Are we are motivated to spend time and energy only on the influential?
How do we respond to sitting on a porch and listening to an elderly woman talk
about her cat hacking up a hairball?

Accurate empathy is beneficial in pastoral care.
We must be able to enter into another person's frame of reference.
Learning to get clear understanding of another person's emotions helps to respond
to their inner needs.

We must be trustworthy caregivers.
What is said to us is privileged and confidential.
An elderly man was near death when his pastor came to visit.
The old gentleman told of his weariness with life.
He was ready to die.
Then he said to the minister, "Preacher, I'm going to be gone soon.
Please don't make me a sermon illustration

If we are going to be worthy of trust, we must overcome the temptation to use
relationships for ends other than that of the person's good.
Those involved in pastoral care must offer advise.
In reality, advice is best kept to a minimum.
It is best given when requested.

However, you and I are in the business of dispensing God's message.
We have no right to be mean or condescending.
However, we are obligated to graciously speak the truth.
Do not create guilt.
Leave the individual feeling better than when you came.
Offer hope, encouragement, humor and the willingness to face limitations.

Effective pastoral care occurs in a friendly, open, and accepting style
of interpersonal relationships.
We must be as ready to listen as to speak.
Remember, all baptized believers have the task of caring for others in need,
feeding the hungry, and visiting the imprisoned.
In ordained ministry something more is meant by care.
The ordained minister is exercising this care not only as a friend,
but also through an office.
He or she is a commissioned shepherd who is to oversee the gathered flock.
The ordained minister reaches out as the representative of the whole church.

Admittedly the Christian carpenter, clerk, or janitor also has a duty to care for others.
However, theirs is not a life long vocational task.
Pastoral care is not a side interest in the minister's life and work; it is the life work.
Amid sickness, guilt, sorrow, and death, he or she is authorized to speak
in the name of the church.
The congregation has a right to have pastoral care delivered in a straightforward biblical means.

The demand for pastoral care will bring challenging and difficult experience.
There will be agonizing situations at inconvenient times.
When you are dog-tired, hurried, and distracted the urgent call to go the extra mile
on a dark night will come.
Good pastoral care does not ignore the physical needs of the whole person.
We need to pay attention to physical comfort, economic necessity, and temporal happiness.

Ministry is directed toward fallible people.
They face crucial questions and tragic choices from limited vision.
We can not pronounce a cheap word of blanket forgiveness on these complex scenes.
We have an obligation to minister to the whole person.

Discussion Question:
What is the most distasteful part of pastoral ministry?