I am passionate about member care and have been frustrated at times with our narrow applications. Ideally member care advocates for all members at all times, but the reality is that certain times are given more attention. The two areas I have seen become the default attentions grabbers are when people transition to the field and at times of crisis.
We can do better and this is My Manifesto for Member Care.
“You know, that sounds exactly like what you do for member care, Amy.” My teammate said this in the midst of a team Bible study on the prophet Zechariah.
I had thought so too. More than that, I appreciated how succinctly God and His prophet phrased my core beliefs. By chapter 11 in Zechariah, the prophet had about had it with God’s people and their persistent disobedience and laid out fairly clearly what was going to happen to them. In part, they would be left to “foolish” shepherds instead of “good” ones.
“Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy.” Zechariah 11: 15 and 16
I almost made a Youtube video of me talking about this passage so you could hear how excited and hopeful I get talking about member care. Do you see it? Do you see God’s comprehensive heart for us? Not just at times of transition and crisis, but for all of us?
Care. Seek. Heal. Feed.
Or as I like to call them, the verbs of member care.
When we are able to, God wants us to care for each other, to seek one another out, to heal each other, and to feed each other.
I exhale. Yes, this is the kind of community I want to be a part of. This is the kind of community I want to foster. This is the kind of community God invites us to create in the here and now.
The lost, the young, the injured, the healthy
Could you find a more comprehensive description for any community? I don’t think so. We all belong in at least one of these categories, if not more. With simple terms, God invites us to see people through different lenses that change over time. It behooves us to flex with him and not place a person permanently in one of these pigeonholes. With that in mind, this is my hope, that as you look around you and think of people in your city, your organization, or on your team, you will see three things:
- Where you are now.
- Where others might think you are.
- Where you think others are.
And in seeing you’ll be prompted to reach out and help or, if needed, find ways to ask for help. Using Zechariah’s terms, shepherding is an on-going relationship between shepherd and sheep. In terms of member care, we will all be sheep at times and shepherds at others.
Care for the Lost
Here God isn’t referring to “the eternally Lost,” but to those who have lost their way amongst us. Lostness can come in many forms on the field:
- Mental illness, be it depression or other manifestations
- News that rocks your world, such as a crisis back home be it personal, natural disaster or political
- Feeling stuck in an assignment that used to be life giving
- People showing signs of burnout
Care can take on many forms, but it can be as simple as acknowledging the person is lost and you’ve noticed.
Seek the Young
When it comes to the young on the field or in other ministry settings, too often our default is actual age or how long someone has been on the field. When we seek the young and make sure they are seen, attended to and not overlooked, let’s not miss the young in our midst. Those who are:
- New to a location
- New to a stage of life — newly married, preparing for a first child, adjusting to parenting
- New to an assignment be it language study, change in job, or new form of technology
Heal the Injured
This can be a bit tricky because, let’s face it, those in our line of work have been programmed and naturally wired to heal others and not to let our injuries be seen. And yet, we know from medicine, wounds that are attended to heal quicker, are less likely to be infected, and can avoid permanent impairment. Injury may come in the form of:
- Actual attack, be it physical or emotional or health related
- Misunderstanding of the culture
- Those who are far away from a crisis in their home country
Feed the Healthy
This is where I want to stand up and applaud God and say “Thank you.” God doesn’t just want us to care, seek and heal to the point that we create a culture of burnt out people. No, God wants us to feed the healthy too. Feed! What a life-giving verb. More applause. Feeding can take many forms:
- Feeding the soul through times of refreshment be they retreats, podcasts, courses, walks, or naps
- Feeding relationships by connecting with people via social media, skyping or sending personal notes
- Feeding the mind by reading books, learning new skills, engaging in hobbies, and making time for stimulating conversations
- Feeding the heart by finding joy and laughing together
In the movie Jerry Maguire, when Jerry Maguire presented his manifesto to the sports world, they were not ready to make the hard changes because what he was advocating challenged the foundation of the sports world.
I’d like to think we are different and are up for ways this manifesto will require us to “do business” differently.
We are better. Will you join me?
Which category do you think you’re in now?
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