Seniors of faith who spent much of their life as part of a church congregation may already know that it’s important to support pastors and other spiritual leaders. But even if we know this intellectually, it can be easy to overlook this important work as a Christian. Spiritual leaders often seem to know the answers and have things under control, so it can be easy to forget that these are human beings who are dealing with all the same things we are.
Some things that your pastor or other spiritual leader might have experienced and may be experiencing now could include:
- General anxiety and fear because the world is a strange and uncertain place — during the time of COVID-19 and the current cultural and political environment, we feel that more than we may have in recent decades.
- Financial worries, such as how they will take care of their family or best use their resources according to God’s will.
- Health issues, including all the potential conditions and worries that everyone else faces.
- Interpersonal struggles, including making and keeping friends, finding mentors, working with people who they clash with and understanding how best to interact with parishioners and others while always striving to follow the path that God has laid down.
Another thing that seniors of faith might be familiar with is the paradox that can come with stepping out as a Christian leader. Whether someone is ordained or they’re simply a brother or sister who has grown over the years with God and volunteers to share that love and truth, they often get less grace from other people when they make mistakes. If they’re so learned in biblical ways, shouldn’t they know better or be immune to those things?
Wise seniors know the answer is no. No one is immune, and we’re all human.
As a senior of faith at the Park Regency assisted living community in Thornton, you can help support faith leaders in a number of ways. The first is by understanding all the issues discussed above. Here are some other options.
Whether you’re visiting a church, enjoying a call from an old pastor or talking to the assisted living chaplain, you probably have a lot of your own questions or needs to share. Your faith leaders are happy to hear those things and communicate with you about them, but don’t forget that they aren’t a personless religious sounding board. Don’t forget to ask how they are doing or about their family.
Engaging with faith leaders in real conversation actually helps you learn more about your faith and grow in fellowship and love.
Pray for people who offer you spiritual guidance. First, you definitely want to pray that they’re able to grow spiritually and discern God’s word in their life — after all, you’re relying on them to some degree to provide you with help in those activities. But you can also pray for their physical and mental health, for the people they love or for small issues they might have mentioned.
And remember that you don’t have to pray for anything specific if you aren’t sure what to ask God for. You can simply remember faith leaders to God in prayer and trust that he knows what they need.
Ministry can be a lonely life. Seniors who might be working to remove isolation from their own lives by moving into an assisted living community know how important it is to avoid long-term feelings of loneliness. You can help reduce this issue for faith leaders by reaching out to them with positive affirmations and shows of gratitude. Let them know that what they do really matters to you and that you are also here for them.
Options for doing so include:
- Writing a short note or card and mailing it to a pastor or other faith leader. In the note, say that you appreciate them and try to share something specific they have done that meant something to you. You might also share with them a Bible verse that makes you think of them.
- Make a phone call. Some people avoid calling faith leaders because they think these people are very busy. And while that can be true, most would still appreciate a short call thanking them or just checking in.
- Send a text. Alternatively, you can send a text that they can read when they have a moment. Simply tell them you were thinking of them or thank them for their work.
- Give a small gift. A small item that demonstrates you really listen to and got to know a person — such as a new lure for an avid fisherman or a favorite scented candle for a ministry leader — can help someone feel loved and seen.
And these are not just tips that you can use with recognized faith leaders. You can use these tips for making anyone you know feel loved and seen, including other assisted living residents, staff within the community or your own family.
Posted on Tue, June 16, 2020
by Shawn Deane