There are many topics and issues that are taught in seminary after you accepted the call to be a pastor. These topics range from homiletics (the art of the preparation and delivery of a sermon), to counseling, and even pastoral ethics. But many pastors struggle most with knowing how to care for the people in their congregation.
The following is just a small sample of how to start caring for the people in your church. I have used the word PASTOR to create a list of the “how to” of pastoral care.
Put people before tasks.
People should always come first, but in the age of professional ministry, people often come last. Think strategically about how to put people first in your ministry.
Accept others’ faults and failures.
Forgive people when they hurt you. Wounds in the church seem to live on forever. As the leader, you must forgive others people’s faults and failures so that it does not impact your ministry and the Kingdom. Ask God to reveal to your heart people whom have wounded you but whom you have never forgiven.
Schedule time to renew.
Pastor, you cannot give to others what you have not received. One of the most important things that you as a pastor can do is to get away and connect with God. I tell my church that if I don’t have a good relationship with God, then I am of no good to them or to the church.
Tell people about the real struggles that you face.
Be open with people about your life. People want to follow someone who is real and authentic. Share stories of success but, more importantly, share your life failures as well.
Open your heart and listen to people’s stories.
Everyone has a spiritual story. Some stories are an amazing transformation of moving from dark to light. Others stories are stories of long journeys with many a twist and turn. The key to pastoral care is to listen to people and their stories.
Remember significant events in people’s lives.
One example of how this has played out in my ministry is by sending a card or a note a year after something significant has happened in their life. This has especially been profound as it relates to the death of a loved one. People will realize that you care if you are still thinking about their life event a year or two after it occurs. This can be remembered by simply putting it on your calendar a year in advance. This event was significant to them, and it should be significant to you as their pastor.
A pastor is many things to many different people. However, to pastor the flock that you oversee, you must learn the “how to” of pastoral care.