Friday, 10 September 2010

Meeting people's needs.

This is something we've been discussing in my Pastoral Care Field Education classes at college.  We've looked at chaplaincy and conflict ministry and then last week ministry to the bereaved and funeral services.

It's also something I've been experiencing through my pastoral internship at City North, especially these past few weeks.   I have found myself in situations where I have no idea what the people I'm ministering too are going through, it's something much greater than I've ever experienced, yet I still need to be able to meet their needs in this time of trouble.

Some things I've learnt are...

  • don't say too much - in many cases people simply need you to be there.  I've found that simply sitting there and listening, or crying with or watching is what people need in times of struggle.  I found this a tad hard when I was mainly interacting with a friend who's Dad had passed away overseas... most of my communication with him was via Facebook chat.  Yet still even in that situation just simply being online and there to talk if needed was the key factor
  • don't be afraid of silence - this one leads from the last, but if you feel the need to fill every time of silence you're going to end up saying a lot of unnecessary stuff.  Silence is a time to let thoughts process, and that's key when people have suffered trauma, been emotionally ripped apart or are grieving.  Just wait until thoughts have been processed and people are ready to either try and discuss them or just thank you for supporting them while they do it.
  • don't feel you have to avoid the issue.  If someone has died, discuss it, talk about the person who passed away, discuss relationships - good times and bad.  If it is a conflict, don't try and dance around the issue, mention exactly what you think is going on then listen to other sides of the story.  
  • read the Bible.  Know passages that will benefit people in different times, and whether they are believers or not, do not be afraid of giving them Scripture that is relevant to their situation.
These are just some points I've thought about recently.  What is your advice for meeting people's needs??

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