Describe the essential qualities of a pastoral caregiver. Outline literature used to support your assumptions. Discuss the qualities you believe that you have already and what you recognise you need to develop. Include how you intend to do this.
“The shepherd was with his flock day and night, often in remote places far from home, and he had to be skilled in keeping the flock together, in finding wanderers and stragglers, in recognising the ailments of his sheep and knowing how to cure them, and in ensuring the safety of the vulnerable members of the flock.'; This definition of the role of a pastoral caregiver highlights the necessity for certain fundamental qualities within an individual in this role. These qualities include integrity, relevant response to issues of the time, deep knowledge of the heart of God, humility, and love.
Deep knowledge of the heart of God, is the most important quality for someone in a pastoral role. “Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of god, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal…The knowledge of Jesus’ heart is a knowledge of the heart. And when we live in the world with that knowledge, we cannot do other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life, and hope wherever we go.'; Spiritual maturity is essential as the above quote of Henri Nouwen explains and is further defined by St Gregory the Great where he wrote, “That man, therefore, ought by all means to be drawn with cords to be an example of good living…who studies so to live that he may be able to water even dry hearts with the streams of doctrine…'; , for a rounded and biblically sound approach as a carer. However the relationship between the individual and Christ is inevitably ever changing. The pastoral caregiver has to have an open mind to this spiritual development in such things as his or her spiritual gifts, for growth within him or herself and within his or her care giving.
In conjunction with this relationship with Christ the quality of relevant response with regard to current issues arises. Contextualising pastoral theology is achieved through this partnership with God and the original attitudes and awareness that come from an experience and understanding of the present situation. Here the wounded healer has the opportunity to address these issues more totally as they have an empathetic depth of understanding.