Do you care enough?
Why caring for the people you lead may require more than you think.
One of the ministries I work with, Standing Stone, used to use C.A.R.E as its foundational strategy. The ministry’s core work is to pastor other pastors and ministry leaders, so at first blush, it made sense. They used it as an apronym—an acronym where the word spelled from the first letters of each word carries the same meaning as the combined words. Why the grammar lesson, you ask? Well, it’s actually important to this post. Hang in there with me.
C.A.R.E. stood for Connect, Appreciate, Relate, and Encourage. While these all accurately communicated elements of the strategy, and while these are all vital supportive activities, I believe they failed to capture the fullness of the ministry’s strategy because these merely establish the basis for relationship and don’t get to the heart of more deep, meaningful interaction that moves them forward in their formation.
Shortly after beginning my work with this ministry, I began to hear stories of life transformation that required much more than the supportive activities of connecting, appreciating, relating, and encouraging. I heard beautiful stories of tragedies averted—of suicides prevented, marriages restored, and physical and emotional health transformed. I also heard stories of important preventative work, guiding ministry leaders into increasing health.
What I heard was far more than C.A.R.E.; it was actual care.
What’s the difference?
Leaders who actually care, I suggest, do more than the supportive work represented in the C.A.R.E. apronym (or was it really only an acronym?). They also do the work of guiding people to set high expectations for themselves and then holding them to those high expectations. To truly care is to create a culture of high support and high expectations, characterized by tracking with people as they fulfill their commitments, celebrating achievement of those commitments and other goals, and listening to document how they’re interacting with the sources of life in their world.
At the beginning of 2022, Standing Stone made the shift away from using the C.A.R.E., recognizing that their shepherding work was full of high expectations in addition to high support. As importantly, they opened up an internal conversation about what it means for a shepherd to truly care about and for the ministry leaders they walk with.
As leaders, I invite you to do the same. Ask yourself, what it means to truly care for your people. Have you failed them with high support but low expectations, creating a culture of relativism? Or conversely, have you inhibited their growth with low support but high expectations, creating a culture of coercion.
Finally, consider what it would take to increase both your support and expectations to create a culture of ownership where your community can flourish together.
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