My Manifesto for Member Care {The Grove: Help}

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:

  1. Where you are now.
  2. Where others might think you are.
  3. 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?

*****

This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.


Photo Source : Unsplash

22 Comments

  1. Kim January 29, 2015

    Definitely a cross between lost and injured. We’re in our third term, and each has held significant trauma and/or transition. After fighting (and sometimes losing) the battle to just curl up in the fetal position and hibernate, I’m finally healing enough to move beyond the emotional and physical fall-out and begin to see how God is using this to shape me.

    What has helped is reading good books, listening to messages and podcasts online, and reading blogs by other M’s. These have all enhanced my study of the Word, and I love how God has brought just the right podcast or book or blog post to my attention when I needed it. I just found Velvet Ashes in the past week (why did no one tell me about it?!) and have been reading back through as I have time, and finding much encouragement in both the posts and the comments.

    So this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Over the past six months, God has been developing a passion in me to reach out to the other M wives in a tangible way. To be a safe person who encourages and affirms. I have some ideas that are simmering, and am praying and talking to my husband about how they might take shape.

    1. Amy Young January 30, 2015

      Kim welcome! I’m so glad you found us. Because you’re new around here, I don’t know if you’ve been able to poke around and notice the Connection Groups we have. Our next round will be starting in early March with signup in late February (I think Feb 24th if you want to mark your calendar!). Anyway, that could be a place to connect and encourage others.

      I’m wondering if you and your husband have been able to get enough rest. I know when I have gone through traumatic times (and especially if they are emotionally harmful so others might not know from just looking at me how wounded I am), I need so much more sleep. I wish i didn’t, but I think God has wired us to need more sleep than we try to get. Maybe VA can in a small way be a part of caring and healing you.

      So glad you’re here!

      1. Kim January 30, 2015

        I’ve been taking one day a week completely “off”, Amy, and that’s helping. Yes, as I’ve had time I’ve been going back and reading older posts, and I signed up for notification when the next Connection Groups are put together. Now that I know the date, I’m putting it on my calendar. We’ll be in another country at our annual conference, but hopefully I’ll have internet access. VA has definitely been a source of encouragement!

        1. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2015

          So glad you’re here, Kim! We love meeting new people. You’ve articulated yourself well, and you sound like a strong woman with a resolve to push forward and keep yourself healthy. It’s so hard to rise above all the worldly, petty conflict…because interpersonal relationships cut so deeply to our souls. Good for you for taking time to rest, and for finding your refuge in the Word. Nice to know you!

        2. Lauren Pinkston February 2, 2015

          Such beauty, Amy. Your heart is made of gold and Jesus makes it shine even more.

  2. Malia January 30, 2015

    Wow, Amy! Incredible! Fabulous! I’m going to save this to read over and over. It’s very needed, and you’ve summarized the four categories from Zechariah with excellent examples. I’m actually going to write out the verse and put it up on the wall by my desk to read every day.

    I appreciate how you said we will sometimes be the shepherd and sometimes the sheep. Why do we block ourselves off from help by assuming we must always be the shepherd?

    Lastly, I could totally visualize your energetic YouTube talk. Thanks for sharing your passion for member care. I loved your applause at feeding the healthy. Yes! We need to be refilled as we “care, seek, and heal.”

    1. Amy Young January 30, 2015

      Thanks Malia — can you just imagine what life would be like if this is how we lived? And what I love, is that God has called us not so much to a set of beliefs (though beliefs matter), but his heart for us is a way of life. When I read this passage in Zechariah, I love God all the more for who he is and his heart for us. Now, if only we, his feet here on earth could — prepare to maybe laugh a bit — believe it :)!

  3. Phyllis January 30, 2015

    This is so good! In “Seek the young,” wouldn’t that include reaching out to MKs, too?

    1. Amy Young January 30, 2015

      Thanks Phyllis! Great question on MK/TCK’s — I was taking “young” not as an age but as a stage. That being said, I see that MK’s can and do fit into every one of these categories. They too can be lost, young, hurt and healthy. MK’s are every much as legit as any other M!

  4. Deborah January 30, 2015

    I love the article on member care.  Our org is quit weak in this.  It is something that is truly on our hearts.  I think I am in the  hurting time right now, as I fell this week and broke one ankle and sprained the other.  It has been a humbling time.  A friend came over last night after work to clean the apartment.  This has been hard for me.  But the Lord is so close also.  It is a time now to really engage with my Dad.  To read lots of books.  Looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store.

    1. Amy Young January 30, 2015

      Deborah! One broken ankle and one sprained one?! (This might bring a small smile, I first typed “broken angle” — once a math teacher, always a math person!) I can only imagine how this is impeding your movement.

      With member care being on your heart, maybe this situation can be one where you model what “good shepherding” might look like and ask for more help than you’re comfortable with. Allowing others to shepherd you.

      What are you reading? Praying for good sleep amongst the physical pain!

      1. Deborah January 31, 2015

        Thank you Amy,  It has certainly been a humbling experience.  Having to carried around, having friends clean as I sit, my husband helping with thing I should not even mention!  I am reading the Then insanity of Obedience, I just finished the Insanity of God.  Really good books, my daughter bought them on our kindle and they are great for overseas work!  Thank you for caring!

  5. T January 30, 2015

    Hi, Amy!  Happy Belated Kansas Day!  Can we weigh in on your manifesto, too?!?  I’m sure you kept it short for a reason, but!!:  When I read “the lost”, I couldn’t help thinking of people who have lost their hope.  I know this has happened to us at various times in our lives.  Not necessarily losing our hope of eternity, just losing hope that anything is going to happen here, ever!!!!, and esp not because of anything that we’re doing!  And when I read, “the injured”, I thought of people hurt because of conflicts with others, or because so many of their friends are no longer working with them in the same country.  Or, I guess just people who have had very hard things happen to them (like a parent’s death or home invasions, etc).  That is definitely the state that I was in for a long time!

    There is the book called The Wounded Healer, which I just cannot love (sorry to you fans out there; I just can’t get into it).  But, I love, love, love the title.  Is it an official “name of Jesus?”  cause it should be!  Anyway, the shepherding each other and each being sheep sometimes and shepherds sometimes goes with that too, eh?  That we are wounded, and are helping to heal others out of that deep, tender (as in painful) spot, esp after it isn’t burning or stinging so intensely anymore.  And that by His wounds we are healed.  We have an old song with those words in Arabic—by your wounds we are healed.  I can’t wait for that complete healing!  That will be fantastic…

    1. Amy Young January 30, 2015

      And Happy Kansas Day to you T :)! I did keep it short for a reason 🙂 … so people would read it (and hopefully engage). As you said, so many of these points could be fleshed out more. I’d like to write a book about these some day and really put meat on these ideas. I appreciate your example of “losing hope” and being injured because of conflict. So good. What else might others add?

  6. Elizabeth January 30, 2015

    Well, you know I love this member care manifesto! I think it really draws out a lot of novel ideas, like caring for people in ALL transitions of life (wow, we as a group have probably really dropped the ball on that one), and the “lost” being those of us who have lost our way (and who among us has not felt that?).

    I think the most important part here, for me, is that we are all both sheep and shepherd at different times. Because I have the ministry of encouragement, I sometimes behave as if I am always supposed to be the helper and shepherd, pouring myself out for others. I forget that I need to be shepherded as well. I forget that if I don’t “feed the healthy” in myself, I won’t be healthy for long. Permission to be both sheep and shepherd is crucial for me!

  7. Danielle Wheeler January 30, 2015

    This is so chalk full of goodness, Amy.  I’m applauding all of it, but especially the “feed the healthy.”  Those in our profession are so often viewed at or near the top of the spiritual food chain.  That is, until we’re crashing and burning.  I love what Elizabeth said about permission to be the shepherd and the sheep.

  8. Beth Everett January 30, 2015

    Agreed!  This is so good!  Thank you Amy for your rich study of Zechariah.  I am bookmarking this to come back to later.  Need and want to take some time to sit in this verse and your applications.

  9. MaDonna January 31, 2015

    I’m with everyone…this was good and so so practical, which makes it super good. Thanks Amy!

    We are not with an org that has member care, but I was just thinking about people who are placed to do member care…and from reading this list we should all be doing some sort of member care. I really like your list. Definitely bookmarking this site for reminders

  10. Shelly January 31, 2015

    I agree with the expansion on the “lost” and “injured”, and the tension being both shepherd and sheep. I tend to be the shepherd and find it hard to accept my sheep-ness. (Not to be confused with “sheepishness” though I might be feeling foolish for needing to be helped.) Some of that is rooted in thinking that others don’t have time or interest in being a shepherd to me, or I perceive them to be too busy already, so I don’t ask. I resonate with your comments, Elizabeth, about “feeding the healthy in me.” And Amy, you’ve done it again – drawing us to an obscure passage of scripture bursting with applications for us today.

  11. laura r February 1, 2015

    Amen and amen.   Thank you for this.  I hope and pray that many more Ms can experience care that  can be described as reaching the goals listed here.

    I also appreciated this bit in your response to Kim, “I know when I have gone through traumatic times (and especially if they are emotionally harmful so others might not know from just looking at me how wounded I am), I need so much more sleep. I wish i didn’t, but I think God has wired us to need more sleep than we try to get.”

    How does one express the wounding that so often goes unseen?  Thoughts, friends?

  12. Dave February 12, 2015

    Just want you to know, Amy, that my wife and I share your passion for member care. Thanks for this manifesto. May your tribe increase!

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