What has shaped your pastoral counseling? What is you theology of theodicy? What is your denominational background and what are the positive attributes of that and what are the negative attributes? For instance, if you have a weak theology of theodicy your pastoral counsel will reflect that and come across as shallow. If you come from a mainline denomination that is characterized by judgment and condemnation more so than by grace and mercy, your pastoral counsel will reflect that as well. The stakes are incredibly high in hospice chaplaincy. None of us can be closed to self-evaluation about our style of providing pastoral counsel. Yet, sad to say, there are Chaplains that are very convinced that suffering (the subject hospice chaplaincy deals with the most) is caused by personal sin and the patient or family need to get right with God. Actually, that theory is centuries old. Recently, our Chaplains at Cornerstone Hospice presented an in-service to their IDT’s on “Suffering: What it looks like, feels like, and sounds like.” So, I thought I would use a couple of posts here to explore the Book of Job for its value to hospice Chaplains.
It is always good to have a mentor in ministry. A mentor can share by example what to do, what to say, how to handle things and how to say things. I introduce you to three mentors from the Book of Job: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They have degrees in counseling (like most hospice Chaplains). They are Jobs friends and ‘counselors’.
In Job 2:11-13 we read: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Upon seeing Job and his countenance, they wept, the tore their robes, threw dust over their heads, sat down with Job for 7 days and nights, and they were silent. Have you noticed that preachers/pastors have a hard time with silence? If you came into hospice chaplaincy from a parish pastor role you know what I mean. Consider silence as therapeutic. It is. What these three friends did was remarkable. They were moved by Job’s pain and they responded in grace and love. Think of a patient or a family you are working with now. Are they just “one more” to be cared for? How do Job’s friends in this passage inform your chaplaincy? Is there something you will do differently? What is that?
In our next post we will explore how to be a horrible pastoral counselor.