Jesus’ Model of Pastoral Care??

I wonder what this passage might teach us about how we do pastoral care (h/t A commenter named jfreeham at the Theolog).

“…after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:6, 17-21

Read Willimon’s words from his book, Pastor (h/t relevintage):

The pastor is [often] reduced to the level of the soother of anxieties brought on by the dilemmas of affluence, rather than the caller of persons to salvation. My colleague Stanley Hauerwas has accused the contemporary pastor of being little more than “a quivering mass of availability [emphasis mine].” Practicing what I call “promiscuous ministry”- ministry with no internal, critical judgment about what care is worth giving- we become victims of a culture of insatiable need. We live in a capitalist, consumptive culture where there is no purpose to our society other than “meeting our needs.” The culture gives us the maximum amount of room and encouragement to “meet our needs” without appearing to pass judgment on which needs are worth meeting… In this vast supermarket of desire, we pastors must do more than simply “meet people’s needs.” The church is also about giving people the critical means of assessing which needs give our lives meaning, about giving us needs we would not have had if we had not met Jesus.

Are you a pastoral vending machine or are you practicing the holy art of saying no? Is there middle ground somewhere in between? What are we called to be? Can pastors abuse this theological approach to pastoral care in order to feed their own laziness? And to ask a question that is becoming increasingly popular, how would life as a Bishop change the way Willimon thinks about this? What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Jesus’ Model of Pastoral Care??

  1. “a quivering mass of availability” Ouch! I needed to hear that. I am going to take off tomorrow and not answer my cell phone. Thanks for your insights. These last two posts have been your best two ever.

  2. The clergy have become the embodiment of all ministry to some parishioners. I only say this because I have had parishioners say as much. Somewhere along the way, the clergy became the professional Christian and the general, mundane tasks of all baptized believers were laid into the clergy job description.

    Getting this pattern of belief to change is going to take time and patience on the part of clergy but also submission and openness on the part of parishioners who want to retain the professional Christian model of the clergy.

  3. Ouch…. I needed to hear that. I did manage to take all of yesterday off and stay home and accomplish nothing at all on Monday, after getting through our Charge Conference Sunday evening. It’s a start with saying “no.”

  4. All that I know is I become a rundown, moody jerk when I don’t get a day to relax and reflect. Have you ever read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud? He talks a lot about this subject?

  5. hello friend! thx for the link…

    i was looking through my my ‘pings’ and realized i never responded to yours. i’m a big fan of sally morgenthaler and jonny baker too. you can check out an interview i did with sally on my blog in september for a worship conference held at missouri baptist university.

    it’s interesting we would make a connection. i’m a little under a two years from planting a church in midtown tulsa. i can’t gather where you’re from, but if it is tulsa, i think our connection may be providential.

    anyways, i’m connected with the acts 29 network. you made have heard of mark driscoll its president.

    all that to say that i will traveling to tulsa frequently over the next year and would love to buy you some coffee and shoot the breeze.

    let me know. blessings!

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