Last year, I accepted that God was calling me to be a pastor. It was sudden and it was unexpected. Well, at least to me it was. And since then, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things as far as pastoring goes. My recent exploration of church size is one of those things.
But another big topic on my mind is pastoral care. If you don’t know what that means, you’re not alone. I didn’t until about two years ago. And as I prepare to take Introduction to Pastoral Care this semester, I’m willing to bet that even my definition of pastoral care will be refined.
When you think of a pastor, what comes to mind? Preaching. Weddings. Funerals. Hospital Visits. Yes to all of those things. Which of those is considered to be pastoral care? My answer?
All of them.
I used to think it was just things like hospital and nursing home visits. You know, the soft skills like compassion and empathy. But then I took preaching and quickly realized that exegeting your congregation is pastoral. Preparing a sermon is about inviting your listeners to see themselves in God’s redemptive story. And for that to happen, you need to understand where they are and what they need. And to do that, you need to spend time with them.
Right now, my best definition of pastoral care is the holistic ministry of someone that meets a person where they are in order to walk with them through life, encouraging and prodding along the way when needed.
It’s a little clunky, but I’m working on it.
Notice I didn’t say that this ministry only belongs to a pastor. You’re probably thinking, “Then why is it called pastoral care?” Honestly, I don’t know. That’s part of the reason for this new series of articles.
Over the last year or so, I’ve found pastoral care in unexpected places. Through unexpected people. People, who may or may not be Christian, who have exemplified more pastoral care than some pastors in my own experience. And maybe it’s for that reason that it has been so remarkable and memorable to me.
Over the coming weeks (or months, depending on how strenuous my courseload is), I want to explore some of these unexpected places and what we can learn from them.
First up, the guys from Queer Eye. What did you think I meant by unexpected?? This one might need to be multiple articles because, well, there’s lots of pastoral care going on in that show.
Where have you found pastoral care that wasn’t expected? Where can we all show pastoral care to those around us in times of need?