Pastoral Care Skills.

I was humbled this morning where in the course of the conversation, I was told I had great pastoral care skills. This person wasn’t yanking my chain, nor were they just flattering me; instead they were sharing with me that they too had a heart for pastoral care and wanted to know if they could be taught the skills to be more effective and intentional in that area and asked me if I could come along side them and teach them what I know.

My reply was that anyone who truly has a passion for pastoral care work and wants to learn more, can certainly learn skills to become better at what they do. And that I thought this person would be an excellent pastoral carer, as they already had the character of being slow to speak and quick to listen.

Its an area I am deeply passionate about, have spoken often about and prayed about, and have felt from time to time that God would use me to teach others in this area. And so I was deeply humbled and yet excited by this mornings conversation. I also felt a burden of responsibility come over me, a burden in many ways that has some elements of healthy fear, as it’s something I cannot be flippant about.

There are many thoughts and ideas that abound as to what pastoral care is; and within this framework, my favourite is Pastoral care is intentional friendship. Within the specific context of the Christian community, we can expand this to have a twofold meaning, in that we are intentional about our relationships with God and with each other.

Within the framework of the working outside the church, in a multi-faith community and society, pastoral care has its added difficulties, in that we need to address the issue of how do we care for others within this environment, as well as working alongside those of other faiths. Some organisations allow you to freely wear your faith on your sleeve, others are more restrictive, and a more subtle approach is needed. But even within this environment, intentional friendship is the important factor.

At its heart, it has a philosophy that says: “You are important to me!” And because you are important to me, I will do what I can to empower you. And this is the crux of pastoral care ministry of the church, in that we know that we are important to God, and because people are important to God, we make it our priority that people are important to us also.

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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3 Responses to Pastoral Care Skills.

  1. Hey Craig,

    I know you have a genuine heart for people – & I have been blessed by your time and care, given genuinely and without agenda. It meant a lot.

    I think there is a danger, though, that the idea of ‘intentional friendship’ can be misunderstood, or misused so that it becomes ‘friendship disguising agenda’, ‘friendship with ulterior motives’… friendship with a program and a plan…. hey, wait a minute!! That’s manipulation!! (I know you get the picture.)

    I understand what you mean by the term, to be working with people relationally; allowing genuine interpersonal connections to grow, allowing space to share our humanity, and offering support in ways that are mutual and respectful of other’s identities and choices.

    And that is more of an ethos, than a program. You are right, it stems from valuing people; and that is something that can’t be specifically taught – you have to grow into it!

    • Craig Benno says:

      Hi Kerry, the term “Intentional Friendship” actually comes from the web page of the Pastoral Care Council of the ACT, and has to do with the issue of pastoral care of patients within hospital system. I may need to change my page layout as the links may not show up as well as they should. But here is the link you might be interested in http://pastoralcareact.org/pastoral.html

      In many ways its a secular term. You are right to recognise the dangers of manipulation, and within the pastoral care ethos of palliative care, those dangers are inherently increased. And hence training is required in how to truly care for patients within that environment.

      I also believe that our congregations are weakened because we are not intentional in building ‘Godly’ relationships. By this, I mean relationships where we dare to be and are allowed to be transparent.

      Within the ethos of being a chaplain to the community, the chaplain invites and gives the other the permission to transparent and real about where they are at, creating a safe space for that reality to take place.

  2. I like the sound of that, Craig 🙂

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