DEEP connection is necessary for transformation within discipleship, desperation underpins desire, and pastoral care is the vehicle.
I have found two steps occur in attaining deeper engagement. These can be seen through these prayers of a would-be discipler:
1. “Lord, help me establish affinity with this person so they would feel safe with me.”
2. “Lord, help me say and do only those things that protect the trust this person has placed in me.”
The first prayer is about devoting sufficient time with the person, proving we’re genuinely interested in them by listening well, demonstrating care in ways they determine as worthy; in sum, establishment of a solid working relationship where vulnerability can exist and be safely explored. This all assumes that there is the want in the person to be helped, and we (the helper) have the personality, wisdom, experience, and confidence to help. When we have honoured God by our faithful authenticity with the person, He answers the prayer in the affirmative, and the second prayer can be viably prayed.
The second prayer is about protecting the trust we’ve established, and patiently building on the relationship. This is when I am praying about being a good steward of the relationship. I’m praying that I don’t offend the trust they have placed in me. I’m careful to continue to listen and serve. Trust is precious. There is more to lose when rapport is established, and trust is implicit. If the relationship is damaged at this point, it may not get a second chance. Usually relational damage cannot take place earlier than this as trust has not yet been established.
Deeper engagement is necessary as two people work together within a discipleship arrangement to promote transformation. A pastoral type of care is the vehicle that answers the above prayers in the affirmative. And yet none of this applies if a person isn’t ready (i.e. desperate) enough for soul work.
Being for a person, so that between us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we may see transformation. That’s discipling pastoral care.