Soul Care Part 2: Lessons 1-4
The mantra for this lesson is "This is not about me."
We may need regular reminders of this truth. For instance, I have a habit of praying as I enter a room, “Lord, may you accomplish your purpose.” This reminds me that I’m here for a purpose; that it’s not about me. Sometimes I’ll simply hold a bible as I teach or talk with someone. The Bible serves as a kind of “touchstone,” reminding me that this is not about me. Sometimes I literally repeat these words under my breath, “It’s not about me.”
It's so easy to slip into a mode of operating in which it becomes about me… about you being right, or being wise, or appearing "put together." If it's about me, I need to be understood. If it's about me, I'll probably feel defensive. If it's about me, the person's growth is really a reflection of my worth. But it’s not about me.
What are signs that should alert you that your care of another is becoming self-centered?
What boundaries need to be in place in order for you to give yourself to others without becoming unhealthy and over-extended?
There’s an abundance of helpful information available on active listening, non-judgmental listening, listening in business negotiations, and more. What I offered above are five truth statements about listening within the context of soul care. If I were to walk into a complex and emotionally-charged situation, I would do well to remind myself of the following: Talking is over-rated. Presence is under-rated. Empathy is powerful. Congruity is clarifying. Integrity cannot be faked.
In the video I listed the criteria most-commonly used by midwives to define "good" care. The transferable principle for soul care is this: you’ve got to get a glimpse into the other person’s normal. It’s their work conditions, their family dynamics, their routine that matters most. Because soul care that is “good” must apply there. It needs to "work" for them where they live.
The Christian doctrine supports the value to "going to them” is the doctrine of the incarnation: God came to where we are as one of us. John writes, “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us” John 1:14. When in-person care begins to feel too time-consuming or not efficient enough, I know I need to meditate on the practical, relational importance of the incarnation.
Of course it's not always practical or even possible to "go to them." And “going to them" doesn't always mean literally/physically "going to them." The transferable principle is accommodation or condescension. It’s challenging to argue against the claim that caring for someone is most effective when the care happens where their life takes place. Jesus comes "down" to be with us. We should come "over" to be with others.
What would you list as the top five benefits to “going to them?”
Here are a few ways to mature in humility as you care for souls: Revere God. Don't love your own will. Practice submission to another. Don’t quit; instead, press in when it gets hard. Confess your sins. Be content with menial tasks.
How, in your present experience, is soul care "messy?" Recognizing that soul care is messy, how might you prepare for it? What might you do differently?