Treat or Refer?

Living in community is not the same as providing counseling.

I remember during my training to become a hospital chaplain that one of the earliest struggles I had to face was my need to be needed. Sure, I loved people…I thought. I cared about what other people cared about…I thought. I hurt when people hurt. That was true. However, one of my greatest motivations to be in the midst of ministry and in pastoral care situations was my need to be needed. It felt great to have answers. It felt great to be looked to for assistance. It was overwhelmingly uplifting to be the "expert" who could make things all better. I enjoyed the attention and, like an addict getting his fix, it was physically and emotionally stimulating when I helped another person.

My need to be needed landed me in more than one situation in which I really did not need to be involved. As a "wannabe" chaplain-in-training, I was seeking opportunities to help people. When I went back to my congregation to serve, I did the same thing with even more boldness. What I began to discover is that I found myself in some messy situations, and I was not helping anyone. I slowly embraced my "need to be needed," and instead of being used up by that driving need, I began to use that part of my life to inform the way I do ministry and especially the way I do Christian care and counseling. I do love people, care about people, and desire to walk through the valley of life's struggles with them.

I have spent the last 14 years either serving as a chaplain or in some pastoral capacity in the local Church. One of my passions is Christian care and counseling. One of my other passions is training. I have taught and trained literally hundreds of small group leaders. My advice is usually to love people until it hurts, perhaps love them ...

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