Let’s face it, church leaders. Some of us much prefer preaching over pastoral care. Others love pastoral care, but not all of us. Some do it because our role demands it, but that doesn’t mean we always enjoy it. If that’s who you are, use this post to check your heart. You might even be honest with your church and ask them to pray for you about this responsibility. Consider these reasons some of us don't love this role:
- It raises some of the toughest questions. How do you explain the death of a child? The loss of a home to natural disaster? The breakup of a marriage? How do you direct the church member who’d rather die than undergo rigorous painful treatments again? How do you help that young man dealing with same sex attraction?
- It can present awkward situations. Think about it. Entering a hospital room with the smell of a recent bowel movement. Counseling a church member who’s weeping on the floor. Leading the funeral of a deceased person you didn’t know. Officiating at a wedding where the bride’s parents aren’t speaking to each other. If you serve as a pastor long enough, you’ll face situations you never considered.
- It’s never ending. As long as we minister to people, we’ll always have some other need to meet. The needs are there when we wake up and when we go to bed. A break is just that – only a break.
- If you mess it up, it can harm a relationship. A church member who forgives a poor sermon may not forgive you for not visiting her mother in the hospital. Make a mistake in a wedding, and it’ll likely be on video for everyone – in particular, the frustrated couple – to remember forever. Pastoral care wounds can leave deep scars.
- It can be time consuming. Few actions of pastoral care are simple. A hospital visit requires driving and visiting time. Funerals and weddings demand days more than hours. Counseling can consume your schedule if you let it. Ministering to people just takes time.
- It pushes emotionally cautious pastors to their limits. Pastoral care might mean hugs . . . and tears . . . and confession . . . and grief . . . and personal reflection . . . and gut-wrenching, heart-level conversations. It takes some pastors to depths they seldom comfortably go.
- It can get in the way of church growth. It’s really this simple: when you spend all your time ministering to members, it’s harder to find time to reach out to non-believers.
- Most of us have had to learn it the hard way: by experience. Even when our college or seminary offered classes in this arena, no class can cover everything we might face. We’re often learning pastoral care as we go.
To be honest, I enjoy some pastoral care, but not all of it. What about you?