Three Obstacles to Pastoral Care (and suggested paths to overcome them)

Three Obstacles to Pastoring and Caring for the Flock[1]

1. The Individualistic Nature of the Culture.

An attitude that basically says, “It’s none of your business,” or “It’s my problem and I’ll deal with it my way.”


The result is that people are islands of festering wounds.  They are isolated, diseased, and malnourished (and either deny it or don’t know it). Thus, most pastoral care is crisis oriented. Pastors and elders are not called in to help (or do not engage [pastoral leadership that is too passive]) until the crisis is well developed.

    1. Get off the crisis/counseling treadmill.
    2. Get Up-stream and do some preventative counseling.
    3. Add some 6 months check ups to your care routine.
    4. Spiritual Inventory tool. (contact me)
2. Cultural Egalitarianism

“Nobody can tell me.”      


The self as the sovereign over the universe.  This can be in the form of unresponsiveness to counsel from any source; the young not wanting to receive counsel from the old, old not wanting to receive counsel from the young, experience to inexperienced.  “I will be sovereign,” mindset.

    1. Pray for their humiliation. Honestly. Pray that they would be humiliated in their pride and becoe teachable.
    2. Patient instruction (2 Tim. 4:2b). Be prepared to be patient.
    3. Consistent, loving, confrontation. 
3. Our Therapeutic Culture

“My therapist says;” or “Doctor Dobson says”; “Minereth/Meyer says”; or “Steve Arterburn, says” or “Promise Keeper’s” or “codependency theory says” or “My AA sponsor says” or “The Big Book says” or “Henry says I need to set up Boundaries in my life,” or “pastor so and so (their favorite radio or TV preacher) says” etc.


People who are bound up in this problem are living from within a worldview and language that seems plausible to them but is rarely grounded thoroughly in the word of God.  They use a kind of code language that justifies bad behavior in light of their past, their experience, their pain, their genes, their parents, or their favorite teacher, etc.

    1. Pray for seeing eyes and trusting hearts.
    2. Develop and teach a sound theology of suffering.
    3. Patience.


  • ‚ Remember, all their lives people have been told by their culture, their schools and their own sinful hearts that “the problem” is “out there” rather than within their own hearts.  This has led them to the mistaken notion that a change of situation or association is going to solve their problem.  They are quick to run. (This is not to deny that all of those things, [culture, bullies, abusers, family, sins against them by others] play their part in effecting behavior and thought but to put them all in a more balanced place.)
  •  The reality is that, “Not every problem admits to an engineering solution.” (Ken Meyers)

[1] Stimulated by the 2000 and 2001 Bethlehem Conferences for Pastors.

4 thoughts on “Three Obstacles to Pastoral Care (and suggested paths to overcome them)

  1. It is good that you have given suggestions to resolve these problems. Pastors should know that Paul the Apostle in the Bible said, we know in part and we prophesy in part. This means that no man knows everything. The other point is that we are all brethren and part of the body of Christ, for the body to be well nourished it needs what every part of the body supplies to the body. Every body part has to contribute, and not only one man or only people in leadership.


  2. This is excellent! How appropriate on the eve of Trinity’s “Celebrate Recovery” kickoff! I was just going through the material, and one of the CR points is, “Emphasizes personal responsibility.”


  3. John, Amen. When leaders capitulate to the spirit of the age, disaster is sure to follow.

    goyetherefor, body-life ministry one-to-another is critical to a healthy church.

    Connie, glad it was helpful and timely.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.