gifts or strengths; spheres of influence usually according to where we live or work; opportunities e.g. medical and care-workers may have special opportunities); times of availability (some sleep while others work); commitments e.g. family.
To stereotype pastoral care or to overload one person (or a few) is folly. I Cor. 12 relates to the whole varied ministry of the church...very different kinds of gifts. For God's purpose is that all members, weak or strong, 'should have equal concern for earth other' with a mutuality in suffering and honour (v. 21-26.) So there are different expressions of care, such as:
- BEFRIENDING - we easily forget that friendship is a common human need. To notice a person may be its beginning: NOTICE-SMILE-GREET. An unspoken question in newcomer's mind: 'Does anyone care that I'm here'. Latter it may change '...if I'm not here?
- VISITING - in church people come onto our territory; in visiting we move onto theirs. The caring is moving outwards. An echo of the Incarnation?
- PRACTICAL HELP - The Carpenter of Nazareth lays great stress on doing Matt 14:16. Love is in the hands as well as on the lips.
- COUNSELLING - when the pastoral problems are too severe of the need too painful to be dealt with in friendly conversation.
- PREPARATION - for marriage, parenthood, leaving home, etc.
- PRAYER - All the pastoral care begins in the heart of God and we are the channels of his love. For some carers prayer will be the chief ministry as intercessors.
And, as he went through these possibilities he asked us to reflect on our own gifts and opportunities?