Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pastors: Don't Become "A Quivering Mass of Availability"

Green Lake Conference Center, Wisconsin

When people from outside my church family call for counseling, I tell them:

"I'm glad you called. Do you have a church family?"

If the answer is "Yes," then,

"Please contact your pastor and ask them for help." (You want a pastor who can shepherd you when you are struggling.)

If the answer is "No," then,

"I'm only available for persons who are part of my Jesus community." (I cannot become available to outsiders at the expense of the people in my church. Increasingly, I am discerning how God wants me to spend my time.)

I may, on occasion, meet once to set the person on a path to healing. I will refer them to the two Christian counseling clinics within driving distance of Monroe. (Here, and here.)

If they want to check out our church, and be part of us, then of course we will help. They are family!

Stephen Seamands writes:

"Confronted by a sea of human need and the insatiable demands of people, those in ministry can become, in Stanley Hauerwas's phrase, "a quivering mass of availability." In earnestly seeking to do God's will, we can be tempted to do too much of it. In his spiritual counsel to a group of nuns, John of the Cross wisely cautions, "Without the command of obedience, you never take upon yourself any work - apart from the obligations of your state - however good and full of charity it may seem."" (Seamands, Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service, Kindle Locations 212-215)