Pastoral Care Presentation

I usually put Missions topics on this Blog page. However, since, one of my two biggest roles in missions is heading a pastoral care center, I don’t feel bad putting this presentation here. And besides, even if the development of missions and pastoral care historically is different, there are a lot of parallels. Decide for yourself.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”History and Foundations of Pastoral Care” target=”_blank”>History and Foundations of Pastoral Care</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Bob Munson</a></strong> </div>

Symphonic Instruments of Your Peace, Part II

Our team over here is called “Bukal Life Care.” We do pastoral care, train chaplains and ministers (particularly in pastoral care, but other topics as well), do missionary member care, crisis care, and some missional outreach. Our goal has always been to work together (as a group) and with others in a positive way. Our name seeks to emphasize that. Our name “Bukal” is both a Tagalog term and a Tagalog acronym.Bukal Logo Small New

Balikatan      Working should-to-shoulder

Ugnayan       Networking

Kaagapay     Coming alongside

At                    And

Lingap           (providing) Care

The term itself, “Bukal” means “spring” as in an outflowing of water from the ground. The idea is that of being a source of help to those who need it.

How do to we work together?

1.  We have organizational unity. Those who are part of our group work together as one organization.

2.  Spiritual unity. Our group is made of volunteers. We decide what to do democratically and voluntarily.

3.  Networking. We have not always been so good at this, but we are trying to do a better job communicating with other groups to know what they are doing, letting them know what we are doing, and finding ways to learn from each other.

4.  Partnership. We have formal partnerships with the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP) for our CPE program. We also have a formal partnership with Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary for areas of training and resource utilization. Less formally, we have agreements with local hospitals and jails for ministry work.

5.  Collaboration. During this latest disaster (Typhoon Yolanda) we have sought to come along side other groups with our own expertise to help them in their work, and allowing them to help us in the common goal. We have worked with PASAR foundation, Vis-Con, PNA, PGCA,, and more. The idea is to have the same ultimate goal and find ways to bring it all together, coordinating specialties for the common good.

An advantage in collaboration is that we don’t have to be experts in everything. Rather, we can find areas that we can bring our own specialties together.

Obviously, we want symphony in ministry not cacophony. It is worth not doing it all alone. Rather, we need to discover our commonality of goals as a minister of Christ. Then we need to find out how and in what ways we can come together to achieve that.

Symphonic Instruments of Your Peace. Part I.

The term “symphony” etymologically means “sound with” or “make sound together.” The idea of together here implies more than making sound at the same time, but in such a way as to be producing a better sound as a collection than as individual sounds. Is this is not achieved one gets “cacophony” (bad or ill or evil sound). In the case of cacophony, sounds are together but the resultant collection is worse than the individual parts.

The so-called “Prayer of St. Francis” (almost certainly not from the mouth or pen of St. Francis) has the entreaty, “Make me an instrument of Your peace.” But if you take the analogy of an instrument being a musical instrument, the concern is whether having a number of such instruments are positive (synergistic) or negative (chaotic).

In ministry, it is great when we all are seeking to do God’s work. But do we work together (symphonically) or against each other (cacophonically… if that is a real word). Therre are different ways to do things ministerially.

1.  Organizational Unity. We all work together because we are all in the same hierarchy. If every minister/missionary served in the same hierarchy, there would certainly be greater unity and coordination. However, there would be a vision deficit. Limiting planning to a few would reduce vision, and such a reduction is unlikely to be overcome by the greater coordination.

2.  Spiritual Unity. Paul talks about us have a spiritual unity. That is, we share one Lord, one Baptism, and are baptized of one Spirit into one body. That is a comforting thing. However, sometimes that’s where the unity stops. Each do their own things… sometimes even in opposition to each other. This can certainly result in counterproductive ministry. Some seem to justify this from the standpoint that competition is beneficial. This may (or may not) be true in economic systems, but I pretty sure this is not true in ministry. The idea that “we are all in this alone” leads to inefficiencies and groups working against each other.

3.  Networking. Networking is where different groups share information and SOMETIMES work together on common things. This leads to greater coordination and a modest improvement of efficiency. Additionally, the openness to share information may lead to a reduction of competition. Still, in practice this is far from a symphony. More like a group sing-along.

4.  Partnership.  We work together as equal parties in specific areas, drawing the best from each other. This is better… but it has limitations. Partnerships are rather formal and limited.generally. If they were unlimited, then they would become organizational unities. This is not bad… just not always an option.

5.  Collaboration.  We all play our roles in achieving mutual goals. In this case,

What is best? It depends, I suppose. Even “spiritual unity” is good if people truly understand the implications before God of such unity. In the next post I will give a few examples from our side.

…As Those Who Will Not See

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’). In 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’. The full saying is: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’

<I got this from>

I like the saying, and the reference to Jeremiah 5:21. But I do have an issue with the “full saying”:  “There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.” I don’t really see this as particularly accurate.

Most commonly, the problem is NOT ignoring what they “already know.” The most common problem and most unfortunate blindness is seeing ONLY what one “already knows.”

I have mentioned before Douglas Adam’s “SEP Field” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. How does one land a big alien space ship on a planet without it causing a big ruckus? Surround it with an SEP (somebody else’s problem) field. So one actually sees it, but it does not really register with the brain because one believes that it is “somebody else’s problem.” We tend to notice things that we think are our own problems. We tend to ignore (are functionally blind to) what we believe is not our problem.

Likewise, we are often functionally blind to what challenges our deeply held beliefs. In fact, everyone does this at times. It is human nature in some ways. Our minds were created to recognize patterns and utilize these patterns to make sense of the world. When we see things that tear apart those patterns, our minds resist this by filtering out the discordant data.

This is a challenge in missions, because we are dealing with different cultures and worldviews. A worldview can be pictured as a pair of glasses. The glasses filter, distort and shade the sensory inputs of the outside world. Worldview provides the paradigm of interconnected patterns for guiding behavior and interpreting (or making sense of) reality. Worldview makes us focus clearly on images that are congruent with our worldview. However, things that don’t fit are filtered out or distorted. Ultimately, we are functionally blind to what challenges are paradigms with regard to reality.

A reason for missionaries to study cultural anthropology is not primarily to learn about endogamy versus exogamy, patrilineal vesus matrilineal systems, or bands versus tribes versus nation states. Rather, it opens a new way of seeing the world… through being a participant observer… and incarnational agent of both change and preservation.

Missionaries must be able to try different glasses on, not just the one they picked up in their home culture. A Christian missionary is still a Christian… the calling defines a certain paradigm. Yet our culture is another set of glasses that can blind us to understanding and interacting with another culture.

For me, the full version of the saying should be:

‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to only see what they already think they know’

They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait

<For those who don’t know, the Title is from the last line of the sonnet by John Milton, “On His Blindness”>

The Book of the Judges in the Bible tells the story of Gideon and the Midianites. Anyone unfamiliar with the story is certainly invited to look it up. But in the story, God called Gideon to lead the army of Israel (at this time in its history, more of a tribal confederation) against the invading Midianites. 32,000 showed up to join Gideon. God tells him that there are too many men (God apparently wished to demonstrate that He was saving the people of Israel and did not want the men of Israel to be confused in this message. Yet He still chose to use people. Miracles always still utilize people). So those who were timid or afraid were invited to go home. 22,000 went home. 10,000 remained. That was too many so a test was done. All were invited to drink from a river and those who drank one way were told to go home while the others were told to stay. 300 was the final number who stayed. God used those 300 to bring terror on the Midianites who fled. (I remember hearing a sermon where the preacher suggested that they way they drank showed how vigilant or non-vigilant the men were. I think that is completely flawed. The key was to reduce the numbers. The final number was important, not the method of drinking water.)

So here is a multiple choice question.


A.  32,000       (“the Willing”)

B.  10,000       (“The Committed”)

C.  300           (“The Chosen”)

D.  1               (“The Called”)

There is no single right answer. I, personally, believe that “D” is clearly wrong. It smacks of the “Great Man” theory of history. God uses people. God does not use individuals who then use people. God does not separate Himself that way from His servants.

But choosing between “A”, “B”, or “C” is more difficult. Personally, I would choose “A” (32,000) as the correct answer. God uses the willing. God came up with those chosen to serve from those willing to serve. Those who were willing but afraid and those who are committed but not chosen are the people God draws from in the future for service.

The Bible is full of people God used who were willing (in a general sense to serve God) but lacked commitment (or were timid) at first. Moses (arguably hardly even willing), Jacob, Deborah, Saul, Jonah, John Mark,  and Timothy are a few. If some give the impression of willing to dive in from the very start, it is likely that the story is compressed.

Another story that brings up this idea involves the stones collected by David. The Bibles says David collected 5 stones when he went against Goliath. How many stones did David use? He used 5. One to strike down Goliath, and four to have as back-up if the first didn’t do its job. I also heard a sermon trying to say that the other four were for the other brothers of Goliath. It is amazing how much disrespect is given to someone or something being ready for service but not (at least for now) needed.

Regardless, it is from the pool of the willing that God develops those he chooses. In missions we seek the highly committed, and that is fine. But we cannot reject those who are willing but not committed, or the willing but timid. This is the pool that God is developing to serve. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday they will be called by God. In missions we can be part of God’s effort to prepare these people… or we can simply reject them. WHAT A WASTE! WHAT A MISTAKE!

We need to seek the willing… and gently help them be prepared long before they are ready to commit. and even longer before they are chosen. My life experience supports this.

  • I was willing to serve God LONG before I was willing to serve unconditionally.
  • I was interested in considering mission work SOMEDAY long before I was willing to consider it in the near future.
  • I was willing to prepare myself for missions long before I was willing to commit myself to missions

People development is not simply developing the highly motivated– it is recognizing the willing (in some sense) and helping them be prepared for when they are chosen.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

This is an extended quote that a fellow graduate from Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, Bernard Kuffuor, formerly and presently of Ghana. The quote really explains itself, but I would like to add that Christians need to grab and embrace their own history and the History of their ancestors (physical and spiritual). Jesus said not to look back… but that is about turning away from the goal, not gaining insight from the past.

“I just read a friend’s wall underscoring the premise that: One needs not to look back in his pursuit for success save when he has annexed success.

This maxim, as poignant and blatant as it is, is NOT TRUE for my money…

Every athlete is indoctrinated with the time-worn and outdated advise to focus all his attention on the finish line without catching a glimpse of his competitors….

Taking a peek or glancing at what is beside or behind you isn’t the problem, but being obsessed or too fixated with it IS. Every athlete at a point in a particular heat of a competition, takes a SHARP or SNAPPY gaze at who is beside him or running at a faster pace behind. This WISDOM helps this athlete to either run all and finish hard or continue with his normal pace and finish with it.

We are made to believe that CURIOSITY KILLS, so up yours with it. In my book, CURIOSITY is a Risk to take in order to Embrace Ample and Productive Knowledge. Let’s Redefine Old Maxims and Quotes to suit our Present Roles and Dispensation.

Life is a MIGHTY RACE and the sacrosanct truth in life is that: our whole life is made up of the PAST, NOW, and FUTURE.

We take a SNAPPY GAZE at our PAST, in order not to repeat it or get too complacent with it and to rectify our mistakes it for a BETTER NOW. Then, we must regroup both our losses and dividends to structure and build up a BETTER FUTURE.

COUNTING THE COST involves the PAST, the PRESENT, and the FUTURE.

Remember: it’s a QUIZ…  GAZE AT THE PAST to LEARN FROM IT not to be Dependent on it….

Less Talking Please…

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together 1954. Pages 97-98.

Quoted here by someone who often forgets to listen.