One of the bottom line concerns for me as I went through the program of Stephen Ministry Leadership training was my concept, and hesitation, of a high level of responsibility being with a care-receiver in a lay ministry relationship.
Understand that since the beginning, I have been one of those persons who seem to need results to keep me going in the forward direction. This category falls into “fix it…cure it…the object is to get well…etc.”…and I just couldn’t imagine that the presentation might not jibe with my preconceived conviction…Is anybody else in this category, I kept asking myself? This was a nagging condition, until…
Gifted speakers and presenters slowly gave us the concept of Caring verse Curing and the resistance started to lift. Caring as described over the 7 day period was the essence and the message. Curing was described over the same period as something that might happen but was beyond, or out of, our direct control. The presenters used the Curing term as to be “in the hands of God” and our mission as to be the person who is present, who is there, who is listening and who “hears” the feelings as we seek to be a partner in the relationship.
Once this message sunk in, I began to relax (at least a little!) and know that first of all, I will need practice! Then secondly, a feeling emerged that “I can and want to do this as I can”. I am now certain that our unique gifts given to us will, with the tips that come through practice, lead us to do the Ministry in our very unique and effective way. It’s a challenge, YES, but my belief now, is that God will flow thru the process as we become a presence to the care receiver…And for that I thank God, and hopefully worry a whole lot less on the issue of “how am I doing?”
Wouldn’t you know it, just shortly after I returned from training, Henri Nouwen showed up with the message on the same theme! It also relates with another unique slant but so true for our comfort as potential care- givers under the banner of Stephen Ministry.
“Care, the Source of All Cure:
Care is something other than cure. Cure means "change." A doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a social worker-they all want to use their professional skills to bring about changes in people's lives. They get paid for whatever kind of cure they can bring about. But cure, desirable as it may be, can easily become violent, manipulative, and even destructive if it does not grow out of care. Care is being with, crying out with, suffering with, feeling with. Care is compassion. It is claiming the truth that the other person is my brother or sister, human, mortal, vulnerable, like I am.
When care is our first concern, cure can be received as a gift. Often we are not able to cure, but we are always able to care. To care is to be human.”- Henri J. M. Nouwen . For further reflection ..."He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him." - Luke 10:34 (NIV)