What is the goal of pastoral care? Is it high functioning people? Is it someone who can better “cope” with life’s hardships? If leaders are to use Scripture wisely in their shepherding and equipping, what are they trying to accomplish? The ultimate goal is two-fold. We will consider one of these today.
Three passages give us a clear snapshot into what we want to see happen at an individual level.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
2 Corinthians 11:1-3
I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
For each individual believer, these verses show what is important as you define what a disciple looks like.
- Ephesians 3 emphasizes the need for the believer’s relationship with Christ to deepen
- 2 Corinthians 11 stresses greater covenant faithfulness in devotion to Christ
- Colossians 1 states what will emerge from the first two passages - personal character transformation into the likeness of Christ.
In other words, the biggest concern is character transformation as believers struggle with various sins and sufferings that are common to all. You will never be nor will you ever produce a perfect person. That can’t be your goal. If it is, you will be disappointed.
You have the privilege of seeing God change a person before your very eyes. Nothing could be more satisfying or heartening.