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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

Pastoral Care in Mission and Ministry

In Jesus’ life, mission and ministry there is a clear emphasis on the pattern of servant and relational leadership. The servant and relational pattern produces fruitfulness, while the absence of the servant and relational pattern leads to the tragedy of fruitlessness and at times abuse. All pastoral responsibilities in mission and ministry should be based on and patterned after this servanthood model and be highly relational in character. Genuine pastoral leadership avoids the authoritative, paternalistic, manipulative, controlling, leader-dominated patterns too often seen even among Christian leaders today.

Pastoral leader regardless of the context in which they function will expedite the use of a wide range of gifts and people in caring for the community. Servant and relational leadership manifests itself through relationship and friendship rather than position or status. The pastoral carer should refuse to consider himself or herself as the one in a position of authority but rather see himself or herself as one who is relationally determined to help and care for those he or she serves. The pastoral carer endeavours to serve rather than control. He or she is to establish friendship rather than power or prestige.

This model of pastoral ministry understands that equipping others for the task is preferable to performing oneself. By appropriately conveying the servant and relational patterns of pastoral ministry, the missionary, minister or pastoral carer can live out the example of Jesus in his or her pastoral responsibilities. Likewise, pastoral responsibilities include guiding and correcting. Gentle, compassionate guidance including correction are among the more vital aspects of pastoral care workers and missional leaders and ought to be carried out in a manner that is in keeping with local, culturally accepted patterns while demonstrating love and care rather than harshness.

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