“Now then, my flock, I, the Sovereign Lord, tell you that I will judge each of you and separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats. Some of you are not satisfied with eating the best grass; you even trample down what you don’t eat! You drink the clear water and muddy what you don’t drink! My other sheep have to eat the grass you trample down and drink the water you muddy.
“So now, I, the Sovereign Lord, tell you that I will judge between you strong sheep and the weak sheep. You pushed the sick ones aside and butted them away from the flock. But I will rescue my sheep and not let them be mistreated any more. I will judge each of my sheep and separate the good from the bad. I will give them a king like my servant David to be their one shepherd, and he will take care of them. (Good News Translation)
I have a zero tolerance for bullying. And, I believe, this is a conviction which must be shared together with everyone. If not, we will continue to see spiritual abuse in the news, so-called Christians and churches throwing their weight around, and a world enveloped in the darkness of mean-spirited persons who only care about themselves and getting their way.
It is most necessary that spiritual folk let compassionate pastoral care have its way in the world.
Pastoral care, for me, is rooted in the compassion of Jesus Christ. It is my connection and relationship with this living Savior, Teacher, Healer, and Lord which enables me to extend genuine care to others.
I believe that it is the grace and mercy of God in Christ through the enablement of the Holy Spirit which brings comfort, hope, and encouragement to people in need. My philosophy of pastoral care addresses three significant factors, in this order:
- Being in a safe environment is paramount. Building trust and connection is important. The caring relationship needs confidence so that the pastor can compassionately encourage and help the person to pursue being in a secure place – whether that is a physical moving away or out, or finding a safe and sacred place within one’s own soul from which healing and holistic health can begin. Bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional, mental, or personal in talking abusively to oneself; and it must be stood up to and stopped.
- Grieving is necessary. Mourning and lamenting a significant change or loss must occur to learn to thrive and flourish again in a new situation. This requires being open about one’s feelings, communing freely with God, and being vulnerable with a pastor, therapist, church group, or some other secure human connection. It is common to get “stuck” in grief and believe our situation can never change. But it can, so we must not remain there.
- Reconnecting with the world is vital. Bullying and belligerent people can take a lot out of us and from us. Therefore, we need to find joy in the simple pleasures of life again; to reach out and relate to others who have gone through similar experiences; and, to regain ordinary rhythms and routines of life are all crucial to being alive. The compassionate pastor gently assists, encourages, exhorts, and walks with others toward relating well with the world once again.
Recovery is not an event, and not even a process; it is a way of life.
All of us are vulnerable to the brokenness of this fallen world. We must learn to navigate troubled times with someone who cares, and not by ourselves.
We all struggle to live out our faith commitments in a complex web of various family, work, social, and neighborhood relationships.
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility!”Søren Kierkegaard
I am passionate about a biblical understanding of living in the world for its betterment and blessing as a pastoral minister. The following is a kind of manifesto of what I feel called to be and to do….
With God as my help, and with the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as my guide for grateful living, I seek with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength:
- To foster, support, and realize spiritual healing in the world
- To cultivate the human spirit and do the work of soul-craft deliberately, carefully, and patiently
- To consult and collaborate with others who share a spiritual vision for blessing the world
- To engage in spiritual practices which strengthen faith, enlarge a compassionate heart, and expand the soul’s capacity for growth
- To walk in the way of Jesus through engrafting silence, solitude, fasting, giving, and prayer into regular and habitual rhythms of life
- To wed integration of learning with an alignment of head, heart, and gut.
- To embrace suffering and adversity as sacred Teachers of the soul
- To continually pursue self-awareness and utilize that awareness for the common good of all persons
- To liberally use the spiritual tools of faith, hope, and love; and, to sharpen those implements with great care
- To weep with those who weep
- To keep vigilant presence with the dying
- To extend mercy, respect, and hospitality to those considered by society as the least, the last, and the lost
- To eradicate loneliness in all its forms
- To extend basic human dignity and divine grace to all with mental illness, cognitive disorders, soul-sucking addictions, and suicidal ideation
- To embody the Beatitudes of Jesus and live by Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
- To embrace humble service as demonstrated and taught by Jesus in his Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17)
- To picture a world without poverty, racism, patriarchy, gender bigotry, verbal and physical violence, religious wars, and emotional immaturity
- To imagine a future with an abundance of the Fruit of the Spirit, clean water, creativity, beauty, and equity of resources
- To promote an egalitarian spirit and social justice, especially for those without power and/or privilege in the world
- To see the image of God in persons very different from me
- To grieve and lament my unwanted changes and losses
- To express daily affirmations of faith
- To exercise gratitude in all circumstances
- To live in a healthy rhythm of receiving and giving
- To encourage the telling and listening of stories
- To champion women everywhere and alleviate all barriers to their voice in the world
- To reform and keep reforming
- To choose vulnerability and courage in life and leadership
- To perpetuate, in both word and deed, the ancient Scriptures and ecumenical Creeds, paying attention to the worldwide church’s contribution to scriptural understanding
- To use Holy Scripture for the encouragement of others and the strengthening of faith, and not as a weapon to damage others and create divisions
- To observe the Christian Year and conform to its liturgical rhythms.
- To die well, with no regrets and with a legacy of faith