In John 21, we’re given a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for people.
Jesus is having a talk with Peter and asks, “Peter, do you love me?” The conversation goes on, and Jesus says to Peter that if he does, then “feed my lambs” and “take care of my sheep”. From this dialogue, we can see God’s heart for His people – He cares for them. But it also shows God’s agenda for pastors – He wants us to care for His people.
As pastors and leaders, pastoral care is something that we’ll all have an opportunity to do at some point, whether it’s with someone in our congregation, Connect Group or maybe even with someone who doesn’t go to church,
There are three things for us to remember when we’re practising pastoral care:
1. Shepherds need to be with the sheep
If you’re going to pastor people, you need to be with people.
Did you realize that shepherds smell like sheep? Pastoral care isn’t something you can simply delegate to people or leave for someone else to do; you need to be on the ground, in the trenches with people who are struggling with real issues.
2. Shepherds need to know the condition of their flock
Where are people at in their lives? What’s going on in their worlds? Once you understand peoples’ circumstances you are able to give them the help and the care that they need.
At Hillsong Church, we have what’s called a ‘pastoral care wheel’, which gives a broad overview of what people are struggling with, and provides a breakdown of the areas we’re involved in, whether it’s relationships, sicknesses, mental health, etc.
As pastors, we need to understand the individual issues, but also to be aware of the big-picture trends that are going on in the world, so that we can equip, train and lead people from the front.
3. Shepherds lead the sheep
People are constantly making decisions about whether they’re going to put Jesus first. Are we leading people to a place where they are prioritising Jesus?
Pastoral care is not just caring for people, but about leading people into the will of God. It’s not just helping people through a crisis, but leading them from a crisis.
Being able to lead people, however, starts with being able to lead ourselves. Pastors should pastor themselves before they pastor others.
As pastors and leaders – are we healthy and whole? Healthy pastors produce healthy people. Unhealthy churches are a result of unhealthy pastors, and ultimately, we owe it to the people we’re leading to become whole. The more whole we become, the more we can help pastor people back into wholeness.
Let’s be committed to leading ourselves so that we can effectively love and care for other people.
This thought was originally shared during an ‘Online Open Week’ webinar discussing Pastoral Care in August 2015, hosted by Sam Di Mauro, Campus Pastor of Hillsong Sydney’s Hills Campus. Online Open Week is your opportunity to receive impartation and training direct from the Hillsong team through live webinars.
If you would like to watch the full recording, check out the ‘Pastoral Care Wheel’, or find out more about future events from the Hillsong Leadership Network, click below.