What Are You Seeking to Produce?

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.

Individual Growth

Three passages give us a clear snapshot into what we want to see happen at an individual level.

Ephesians 3:14-19
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.

Colossians 1:28-29
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.


Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.