“I don’t even know what to do anymore,” he secretly wished that the heart attack that killed his good friend had happened to him instead.
Financial stressors, church hurt, and more house projects than he knows what to do with had led to a perpetual dread of waking up each morning.
He finished with “My marriage sucks! My wife left me in her heart years ago. If it weren’t for the kids, she would have left me already.”
There are many problems and struggles that people in our churches will face after the pandemic. Truthfully, most of these problems didn’t go away during the pandemic, but some leaders found their attention focused on the more pressing concerns.
Week after week, people show up to church wondering why God hasn’t changed their situation. Does God even have answers for my problems?
If church leaders don’t learn how to care for these struggles, we can expect them to worsen year after year.
We can’t change others, but we can influence them through our care.
God uses our care to help others change, bring comfort to the hurting, and teach us lessons about God’s heart. Acts 20 gives us a pattern of care that every church and leader should follow.
Consider the following patterns from Acts 20 of churches and leaders who want to have a lasting impact on the individuals and churches they lead.
Personal Care “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews…”
Public Care “How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public…”
Private Care[19b] “And from house to house…”
Protective Care “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…”
Prayerful Care “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.  And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him,  being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.”
How would you evaluate your personal care and the care your church provides? In the midst of the crazy moments in life, we can easily lose sight of how God calls us to care for the problems that face our people every day.
A Picture of Personal Care
People who care about others remember the small details. Perhaps it’s remembering the anniversary of a loved one’s death or the person who checks in with their friends before and after their high-stress moments.
Personal care is about knowing and being known. Effective churches and leaders find ways to be personal in their care.
A Picture of Public Care
So many in our churches wonder if they are alone with their personal struggles. We have often found that when we speak on issues that are common struggles at churches and online events, churches are amazed at how widespread certain struggles have become.
Not every leader has a public platform, but effective care requires our public care to take the risk to address problems with real-life solutions.
A Picture of Private Care
Consider the mom who is heartbroken and anxious after seeing what popped up on her daughter’s phone. She now understands her daughter’s depressed demeanor over the past few weeks.
How could these mean girls be so cruel? The text read “You’re so ugly and your cutting is soooo pathetic – loooooser!”
Both mom and daughter need private care, personal guidance, and encouraging comfort. Public ministry can paint the broad brush strokes, but private conversations fill in the finer details and complete the picture.
A Picture of Protective Care
A good friend’s husband was recently nominated for deacon in their church, but you know his wife doesn’t respect him at home. You have seen bruises on her arm one too many times for it to be just explained away as “clumsy.”
You feel God nudging you to ask if she is safe because it doesn’t seem right. Protective care is keeping an eye out for the wolves that hurt those under your care. Paul knew this was a common problem and that leaders must protect.
A Picture of Prayerful Care
The heart of a loving leader begins in private with God. It is fitting that Paul both began his ministry opportunities through careful prayer and he ended this ministry opportunity with a deeply felt prayer of commission.
Effective leaders pray for and with those in need of care. Sadly many leaders and churches have lost sight of this focus.
How well do you and your church care? We are called to model Christ in the way that we’re caring for the hurting and hiding in our midst. Don’t be distracted from this. As you step into this calling, your churches and the individuals you serve will be healthier for it.