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Your fifth-grader has an issue, and as the parent, you don’t know how to guide your child through it. Do you send your child to a counselor and not be part of the process? Perhaps you’re not sitting in the sessions, but wouldn’t you be part of the solution before and after the meetings?
Imagine a pastor (or church leaders) sending folks to a counselor outside their church and not following up or being part of the church member’s ongoing struggle and care. Pastors will give an account for the soul care of their sheep (Hebrews 13:17). Delegating soul care and not being part of the process, or not caring about the sheep’s spiritual needs is not shepherding.
There are exceptions to this concept, like an abusive pastor: the church member does not want his care. Of course, in that situation, I would question the church member’s wisdom in sitting under such a pastor. Under “normal church conditions,” pastors should involve themselves in the care of the sheep. If they don’t know how to care for their people, they need to learn how.
In 2017, I had back surgery. Lucia was not at every meeting with every doctor, but she was very much part of the process. After each session, we talked about the conversations. I wanted her input, care, and questions. Caring spouses care, and my wife cares about me, so I do not wish to work through something so vital without her engagement.
During the early years of our marriage, Lucia had several miscarriages. I “went through them” with her, though nothing like her. I could carry the burden, in a limited way, and serve her as a husband because her body is mine and mine is hers.
I asked our intern that if she were married and had a baby, would she want her husband with her to share the experience? Of course, she said that she would. Marriage partners celebrate occasions and weep over disappointments together because they are one flesh.
When our children were small, we began teaching them about a one-flesh marriage. I would draw a line on a sheet a paper, and ask them what they saw. Because of prior instruction, they would say, “That’s you and mommy.” They knew that we were one, not two in the marriage.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:29).
Ephesians 5:29 talks about nourishing and cherishing a wife, which means to “grow” and “warm” her. You can develop a “word cloud” out of those two words, the things that a husband brings to marriage to help his wife, e.g., grace, peace, kindness, unity, care, disciple, gentleness, etc.
One of the first questions you want to ask a spouse when the other spouse is looking for help is, “What does your spouse say about this?” You want to honor their one-flesh covenant, which is your motive for finding out how the other spouse is part of the solution. As a counselor, I want to know what a wife thinks about the husband that I’m meeting with to help, and vice-versa.