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

Child-like Faith in Creation Account

When I was just five, I made a conscious choice to become a Christian. My young mind and heart soaked in the moisture of spirituality. I was primed to bring out the water I drank.

At 8, a new pastor was installed at our little country Baptist church. He taught me to be a  ‘witness’ of the Gospel. That meant it was my duty as a born again Christian to persuade  others to believe what I believe. I was introduced, therefore, to my first measuring stick of  spirituality: possessing the courage to tell others the Truth of scripture.

Perhaps that scares you. It saddens me now, but it was all I knew. Yet in my maturity, I can glean from its good bits and allow the chaff to to dispersed in the wind.

My first four years of primary education were expended inside a little two-room schoolhouse of Berville. The locals call the village ‘Beer’-ville. It was smaller than a small town. Beside the school, there was one business, one dairy, a facility for the Lions Club, and a ‘hotel’, the local pub. Fifty or so houses still surround the afore mentioned buildings to house its community.

The  school no longer exists. The American Veterans now have the land, but tore down the two-storied school building. For a long time, I viewed its demise as a small reward for harbouring my initial persecution.

In my third year of Berville school, I began to practise ‘witnessing’. Out of 60 odd
students, I led 3 or 4 to Christ. I remember the names of two of them. John moved before the  year was out. He was my first ‘best friend’. I never did know to where he moved nor where he  is at today. Bob later became a Jehovah’s Witness and worked inside the Headquarters for the  Watchtower Society in New York. That’s a twist!

I was appointed the leader of a sect within the school. I was the teacher of ‘witnessing’. I led the troops into battle during recess. The playground was our battle ground. We set out to win the lot over to Christ! But we never got by Edgar. His rebuttal to our attack  led to my court-martial.

Our group had prayed together and believed it was of God that we  teach Edgar how to become a Christian. Edgar was Catholic. In those days, they didn’t like being called Christians.

Edgar believed in evolution—or more accurately in the authorities who espouse the philosophy. It is a philosophy, not a science. How do I know? Because after Edgar rejected our Gospel ‘witness’ and I parroted my pastor: ‘Evolutionists are out of their  skulls!’ recess was over and we began Social Studies.

The teacher began the class just after the aforementioned recess by having us read silently the next section in the textbook. After we read the section, she was going to expound its contents.

The reading was about Charles  Darwin and his theory of evolution.

It was introduced to me as a philosophy, not a science. I still believe it is such.

‘Psst. Tim—what are you going to do? Are you going to read it?’

That was one of my followers. I can’t disappoint him, but nor could I encourage rebellion.

‘Of course. It’ll be good for a laugh.’

The laugh was on me. After the appointed time to read was ended, the teacher asked if their were any questions. Edgar stood up. I went stiff.

‘Mrs Winnie, Tim Rose says evolutionists are out of their skulls’.

Silence.

My young world joined forces to smother me.

Mrs Winnie turned a bitter gaze in my direction. My classmates stared at me with curiosity. I don’t remember if I was asked to defend myself. I do remember my response. I stood trembling next to my desk. I lifted its top and pulled out my bible.

I read the Genesis account of Creation.

If only I would have realised that most of my classmates were happy with my response. I never knew until years later. I lost my confidence for many years after. It disappeared in the midst of the humiliation that followed.

Time for recess. Everyone got to go out and play but Tim Rose. Teacher pulled him into the back room. Many words were said. Most forgotten but the one stipulation to join his classmates on the playground were never forgotten:

‘Don’t let me EVER hear you read from that bible in my classroom again!’

Don’t Kill the Messenger

No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” (Sophocles)

Character assassination in politics has become a normal way to take out competition. Truthfulness of accusations are no longer a concern. The focus is on winning and winning alone. The end justifies the means. It also underscores the difference between so-called success and genuine success. True success is ethical.

Sophocles_pushkin

Thomas came to me absolutely shattered. He confided in me of a terrible situation where his career was about to be destroyed. As I listened to his story, identifying the elements of chaos, it was especially heartbreaking. You see, Thomas was a church elder. He was asked to deliver the results of a polling of church members. And the organization splintered after the message was delivered. 

The church was organized with a plurality of leadership responsibilities. Thomas was the “face” of the organization. He was the one who stood up before the congregation each week and delivered a sermon. Other leaders held different responsibilities. One was in charge of finances, another marketing, and so on. 

This organization had a chairman of the elders. His primary function was to coordinate leadership meetings and ensure their decisions were executed. Yet as Thomas’ narrative unfolded, it became clear the chairman desired more than just coordinate. 

At that time the church did not have its own worship facility. They rented out venues and operated a successful outreach to its community. However, it was no secret the chairman believed it was time for a building program. 

Thomas had been delivering a series of sermons on responsibility to the community. He was approached by key lay persons and several of the other elders. They asked him if he would deliver a message to the chairman that they believed their monies would be better spent at that time on the community work. 

When Thomas delivered the message, the chairman began to blame Thomas for the people’s decision. He accused Thomas of using the public speaking platform to undermine his authority. He then warned Thomas, “You will see how you were wrong to tell me this.” 

Thomas didn’t fully appreciate the warning. By the time he was seeking my counsel, the chairman had released a smear campaign against my client. Unsubstantiated allegations of inappropriate funding were delivered in a letter addressed to leaders across that denomination. Even though Thomas had nothing to do with handling the finances and was only one vote on the executive committee, no outsider was made aware of those details. His character was slandered. 

The chairman soon resigned. It took several months for the organization to regain its momentum. However, it took several years to repair the relationship between the two men. 

When you reach a level of success that holds great responsibility, it will take ethics to sustain that success. 

Challenge: Ethics is an expression of respect for others. Do I view myself as above the rules for social order?