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Genuine And Lasting Healing Comes From God, Not From Us (via Harold Senkbeil)

Pastors must have compassion and empathy for those they serve, but it is not pastoral compassion and empathy that brings change and healing.
That comes from God working through his gracious means.
This by no means excuses pastors from compassion and empathy, for these adorn the reception of those gracious means.
From The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil:

The word of God effects or performs what it speaks. It does not merely describe things but creates things. So while you and I as pastors can — and should — express our personal care and concern to suffering souls sympathetically and compassionately, there is only a temporary measure of relief in our concern and compassion. Genuine and lasting healing comes from God, not from us.
It took me quite a while to learn that lesson in the ministry. I was under the false impression that my personal empathy was the main help I could bring to sorrowing or hurting people. Not only was I wrong, but I quickly ran out of empathy. I don’t know about you, but I have a limited capacity for compassion. And when I’m running on empty, I’ve got nothing left to give.

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pgs 92-93.


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Scripture As Both The Source Of Diagnosis And Treatment (via Harold Senkbeil)

From The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil:

The word of God will obviously be the source of the treatment you will provide for the distressed soul, but it’s also essential for accurate diagnosis. As you listen you filter what is said (and what you observe) through God’s word.

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 71.


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Christ’s Sheepdog (via Harold Senkbeil)

In The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil observes that God is the comforter of his people, and the means by which he brings that comfort are the simple and straightforward work of the pastor.
The image he uses is not one of pastor as shepherd, or under-shepherd, or stand-in shepherd, but as sheep-dog.

And you as pastor are his authorised agent to bring his presence and his healing by means of the word and sacraments you bring his sheep in every circumstance of life, not just in those moments when life itself hangs in the balance, but also in those mundane, routine, ordinary ups and downs of life. You’re not a counsellor or therapist, of course, but you are Christ’s sheepdog to do his bidding. You’re an errand boy for Jesus, sent to disseminate hope and peace in the most mundane circumstances of life. A fearful, anxious teen, a worried mother or harried father will find stability in your ministry. Not in you, but in God himself, who has chosen to do his consoling work through the word he’s given you to speak. The wondrous reality is that God himself is present by means of the is word to settle anxious hearts and quiet fear. “Thus says the Lord.” Now that’s a mouthful of certainty in an uncertain world!

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 54.


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Fed, Nourished, Guarded, And Protected By The Tools Christ Has Entrusted To Our Hands (via Harold Senkbeil)

In The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil reminds us that God accomplishes the work of growing the saints through the tools that Christ has entrusted to the Church, not through the personal capacities of those who wield them. This is not say that people don’t matter, it’s just important to remember what the channels that God works to bring change and growth really are.

I can guarantee you’ll be strung out, tapped out, and burned out in the ministry very quickly if you don’t grasp this one central truth: By your own power or strength you can do absolutely nothing as a servant of Christ and steward of his mysteries. I’ve seen it over and over again: A bright, gifted young pastor is driven to despair and the brink of emotional and spiritual collapse simply because he set out to do ministry relying on his own ingenuity and internal resources. Please get this straight: It’s not that you do part of the work and God does the rest; it’s not that you do a little bit and God does a Whole lot. Rather, in Christ’s church the Holy Spirit does everything.
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By our Lord’s own mandate, he has so arranged it in his church that we grow, are fed, nourished, guarded, and protected not out of the weakness and ineptitude of our ministers but rather by the tools Christ has entrusted into their hands. The gospel and the sacraments are not static entities—mere object lessons by which we advertise and promote the kingdom of God. Rather, the gospel and sacraments throb with vitality. They are filled to the brim with the energy and life of God’s own Spirit. The actual words that originated from the mouth ofJesus are the instruments and tools of the Holy Spirit to create and sustain faith. And just think: Jesus has given those very words to you. He has entrusted into your all too human and very flawed mouth and hands the gospel and the sacraments by which the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify his church on earth. You might fail; in fact, from my own bitter experience I have to say you most certainly will fail—repeatedly and spectacularly. But we believe in the forgiveness of sins also for pastors! So let me tell you this: Though you will falter and fail, God’s Spirit will not.

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pgs 28 and 30.


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Minister Of The Gospel, Not Salesman For The Gospel (via Harold Senkbeil)

The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil is a book about pastoral ministry that focuses on the pastoral role as ministering grace, rather than managerial or therapeutic.
In writing about being a pastor, Senkbeil describes how the acts of pastoral craft move from being habits to what he terms habitus, and how the pastor moves from being a workman to a craftsman.
What is the core of pastoral habitus?

The core of the pastoral habitus revolves around what I’ve been talking about in the pages above: mystery. If the content and source of ministry is the Jesus Christ, the central mystery of God, then pastors are themselves stewards of the mystery. In contrast, if you and I see ourselves merely as paddlers or purveyors of a spiritual “message,” we rapidly become salesmen for the gospel instead of true ministers of the Gospel. That is, we’re always scrambling to persuade reluctant customers to buy our product, rather than serving as emissaries sent by God to issue his perennial joyous invitation toward genuine freedom and release: “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15)

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 23.


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Acquiring The Pastoral Habitus (via Harold Senkbeil)

The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil is a book about pastoral ministry that focuses on the pastoral role as ministering grace, rather than managerial or therapeutic.
In writing about being a pastor, Senkbeil describes how the acts of pastoral craft move from being habits to what he terms habitus, and how the pastor moves from being a workman to a craftsman.

We learn by doing. That’s how we develop our pastoral nose; that’s how you and I become habituated into the pastoral calling. And it’s a cyclical process. For while we faithfully practice our craft from one day to the next, we acquire a pastoral habitus for the long haul and our work comes more and more naturally to us.
When the habits of a habitus begin to inhabit a workman, he becomes a craftsman and his work a true craft.
Notice you don’t adopt a habitus; you acquire it. You might say you don’t find a habitus, rather the habitus finds you. When “occupation” becomes vocation, when calling and work merge as one, it’s a happy combination in any line of work.”

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 22.