Take heed to yourselves

I came across an ancient text that read, “take heed unto yourselves.”

Take heed is not something we hear in everyday conversation! Perhaps we have lost the art and science of our own mother tongue?

To take heed is to be cautious, paying attention to all that is around you to protect what is within you. This self-management means you have the responsibility to minister to yourself before you can help others and exercise Universal Love.

To be effective for others, you must first minister to yourself. How do you do this?

man wearing gray and red armour standing on the streets
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

1. By patient application of established truths.

Set aside whatever time is necessary to stay true to core values. Rest and refreshment strengthens your God-given talents.  

2. By patient protection of established boundaries.

In the Exodus story, God placed boundaries around the Mount of His appearance and threatened to shot any who crossed the line! It is a great illustration for how you need to protect your inner man from outside influences that steals your love.

  • Take heed of boundary-breakers that abuse your standards.
  • Take heed of boundary-benders that tempt you to compromise your standards.
  • Take heed of boundary-mockers who are envious of your inner strength. 

3. By patient development of your soul.

All consequences are in your charge. You alone are responsible for your actions. Any change you want in your life must come from your relationship with God. 

To love the Lord your God, you must take heed: love God with all your soul and mind; love your neighbour as you love yourself.

When you take heed to yourself, you recognize God as your Creator and love what He has created. In this fashion you can love others and become effective with them.

The Blessing of Mourning

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Pain hurts. Most people avoid pain at all costs; however, pain is a part of life. Learning to deal with pain is a mark of maturity. God has promised blessings for those who mourn  among which is the blessing of comfort.

Our Lord promises comfort to those who boldly lament and are not ashamed of their grief. Sorrow is a painful aspect of human existence. This Beatitude encourages Christ’s disciples to deal with it, not avoid it.

Those who try to run from pain’s reality do so at a cost. Indeed, most people do not realize the extravagant expense of avoiding pain. Those who refuse to deal with something in their life causing pain are only putting off the inevitable and intensifying the sorrow.

Remember this: if you avoid the pain, you are also avoiding the comfort.

  • Your broken heartedness will be comforted.
  • Your ashes associated with death and mourning will be exchanged for beauty just as the ancient patriarch Job.
  • Your black garments worn to mourn the loss of someone beloved will be exchanged for one of praise.
  • Your heavy, burdensome clothing of sacrifice will be exchanged for something much lighter, for Christ has proclaimed His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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Read 10 full length studies on the Beatitudes in my latest publication: Beauty from the Mountain.

Beauty from the Mountaing Cover

The Season of the Ant

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,  Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Most ants build a nest of some sort and store their hard-gathered food in that nest. The food is gathered in the harvest after working all summer long.

Have you considered that most ants live for only a few months?

macro photo of five orange ants
Ants teach us how to prioritise our lives.

The season of the ant is a type of the season of human life. 

Your ‘winter’ season will be the retirement years when you are physically unable to ‘gather’. The harvest season stands for your working years. The ‘reaping’ for retirement is possible because of your summer work. That is why, the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat (Proverbs 13:4). You do not reap a retirement by accident!

The ant teaches you that today you are preparing for your future.

Part of that preparation is passing on your knowledge to those in the spring of their life. Children need to be taught by word and example how to prepare for their future.

Don’t live for the momentlive in it for the morrow.

Balance tomorrow’s evils by putting God first. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

By trusting in God today, you will reap His protection, provision and comfort at life’s end and into eternity.

What grand lessons from such a lowly insect!

Mission Enabler

On 6 May 2018, I was commissioned as ‘Mission Enabler’ for St Aidan’s Presbyterian Conifer Grove/Takanini Church in South Auckland, New Zealand.

By God’s grace, I am blessed by a full return to ministry.

It is a story of redemption, restoration and forgiveness. God is a God of second chances.

Last January, I began a full-time role as a chaplain in an aged-care facility (hospital). It enables me to assist a struggling church who can only fund part-time leadership.

It is an incredibly blessed time in my life. I am very happy and very, very thankful.

Thank YOU for encouraging me along the way. It has been an incredible journey!

St Aidan's Commissioning

 

 

Pastoral Care Trichotomies

The essence of ministerial interventions is spiritual. However, aspects of the spiritual strategies are manifested in the body and soul. Specifically:

  • Agapic Care is the essence of ministerial interventions
  • Pistosic Care is required for spiritually-rooted physical actions
  • Elpistic Care is for spiritually-rooted emotional expressions.

In the context of Pastoral Care, ministering to the human spirit means employing strategies to produce the relevant spiritual outcome (see Table 2). The desired outcomes are measured against Fructus Spiritus. Ministry toward the desired outcomes is based on Relational Theology. Relationships are the foundation for all Pastoral Care.

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The spiritual condition of an individual relates to others. Pastoral Care ministers to the interconnectedness of humanity through the Trinitarian Model. This is the Christian concept of God as a single Entity expressed through three Personalities.

  • The Father is a Spirit shared by Son
  • The Father is the Son in Body
  • The Son is the embodiment of the Father’s Soul and Spirit.

This single Entity cannot exist in isolation. The crossover in the relationship between Father & Spirit and Son & Spirit is the basis of spiritual care. No human spirit can be well in isolation. Spiritual well-being is relational. That means the human trichotomy of spirit, soul and body is “whole” when in relationship with itself, with others and with God.

Figure 2

Pastoral Care strategies are centred on the Triumvirate; spiritual conditions are managed by Fructus Spiritus; ministries work within the related level of fulfilment. The “fruit” of holistic well-being is associated with three levels of association (see Table 3).

Primary fruitfulness in one’s being is the foundation for fulfilment. This is one’s relationship with Authority, represented by the Father in the Trinitarian Model.

Secondary fruitfulness is transitional. This is one’s relationship with Family, represented by the Son in the Trinitarian Model. Family in the context of Pastoral Care is not limited to blood-relationships. It includes all those closest to the individual as well as the individual itself.

Tertiary fruitfulness is fulfilment. This is one’s relationship with Society, represented by the Spirit in the Trinitarian Model. However, the relationship is reflective of inner peace. To be at peace with others is only possible if one is at peace with their Self.

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Related Posts in Series:

Pastoral Care Strategies

Recently, I responded to the challenge of defining Pastoral Care. Working within the Aged Care Services sector, the challenge was applicable. Since that time, I have been developing an overview of care strategies and management of spiritual conditions. It is still work in progress! However, I’d like to share some of that work with my readers in this week to come.

Ministerial Intervention is the work of Pastoral Care to manage a spiritual condition. Effective engagement uses the strategies from the Spiritual Triumvirate: Faith, Hope and Charity. The three care strategies for spiritual management (see diagram below) are:

  1. Pistosic Care (faith-based)
  2. Elpistic Care (hope-based)
  3. Agapic Care (charity-based).

Each of the care strategies are used to guide the intervention. Each strategy contains different types of intervention. The different types, in turn, have spiritual resources unique to their ministry. The table below illustrates the relationship between care strategies, management ministries and spiritual resources.

Table 1All three strategies overlap. The distinction is given for emphasis on management of spiritual conditions. The overlap illustrates the interconnectedness of being human and is faithful to the holistic mode for care:

  • Body – Medical Treatments
  • Soul – Therapeutic Treatments
  • Spirit – Ministerial Treatments

There have been numerous studies conducted over the past 50 years that show a person’s health and well-being benefits when his or her spiritual needs are addressed. Some benefits include:

  • shorter hospital stays
  • improved pain management
  • improved experience of the stay
  • improved motivation to complete the tasks of healing
  • improved management of cardiovascular needs (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure)
  • improved sense of well-being.

The overlap of Pastoral Care strategies mimics the overlap in other fields (see Figure 1). Medical treatments yield positive effects on Soul and Spirit; therapeutic treatments effect the Spirit and Body positively; and, as previously noted, ministerial treatments produce positive consequences for the Soul and Body.

Figure 1

(To be continued)

Previous Related Post: What Is Pastoral Care?

 

Creating Order from Your Chaos

The story of creation provides a model for new beginnings. All cultures share this story and at its root is order from chaos. By embracing the chaos in a person’s life or organization’s current standing; you position yourself to receive an orderly creation of something better.

Producing a new beginning for any person or organization means just that: creating order from chaos.

This powerful notion of success is discovered by using a shared language of the Elements. Comparing explanations of origin in different cultures, faiths, and ancient philosophies, there is a shared story. The traditions have passed down:

Fire, Air, Water, and Earth were combined through a Spirit process that began with chaos and ended in order.

The Genesis story of Creation widely known in our Western civilization also preserves this ancient understanding of the Elements. It begins by recognizing existing chaos: “The earth was without form and void.”

  • SPIRIT – And God said.
  • FIRE – Let there be light.
  • AIR – Let there be a firmament (space as in “outer” space).
  • WATER – Let the waters be gathered.
  • EARTH – Let the dry land appear.

Enjoying hard earned success is finding order in your life. To get there, you followed a process because your life or your business needed change. Something was missing. You were seeking fulfillment.

From within yourself (spirit), you articulated a plan (fire). You separated into divisions (air) everything surrounding your project. From there a plan was formulated (water) connecting the divisions and your success appeared (earth).

Following this pattern propelled you to success. Recognizing this configuration allows you to enjoy continued success.

I have applied this arrangement to assess several sales organizations. The company would have already enjoyed success. It reached a plateau and was finding it difficult to grow beyond its last level of success. It was usually bogged down with a toxic environment.

Every time I assess a successful team in trouble, I emphasize two truths:

  1. The current problem was a result of their success and therefore contains the very elements for the solution;
  2. To go forward they had to be willing to allow “Light” to shine in the darkness of their chaos.

Many a successful person repels such revelations. They don’t want to face the reality of their problems. They state they want solutions but in practice their pride stands in the way. As leaders, they know subconsciously they are responsible. After successfully building their dream, they personalize attempts to apply needed change. They interpret these efforts from well-meaning consultants, staff members, and even colleagues as attacks on their character and/or position.

To enjoy the abundance of your hard earned success, you must remain open and coachable. Success never changes that fact. You are right to repel judgment on your actions. You are successful! You fulfilled your dream. However, do not allow that to cloud the light of reality. Remember that rules change to sustain success. Embrace the chaos. It is proof you possess the elements of success.

Remain open to the light of truth. It is your friend. It will be the difference between enjoying good success and great success.

Affirmation: I am abundant enjoying my hard earned success.

From 56 Notions of Success