The process of caregiving takes on several steps which will be briefly examined here. They include:
- Establish a good rapport with the client. Empathy, warmth, respect and genuineness are of utmost importance.
- Explore the problems by asking probing questions to determine possible causes of the problem presented.
- Discerning of causes. Many times discernment comes from the history taking as the needs of the client are explored. Sometimes however, discernment comes from a revelation or illumination from the Lord.
- Repentance is a key; the first stage of repentance is confession. The client must be able to confess the faults, the needs, the concerns by telling the truth about their situation and owning-up to the responsibility for the problems in their lives.
- Renewing of the mind or changing the way one thinks is a part of repentance, and an ongoing process.
- New behaviors are to be acted upon, or by faith the person is to try new ways of living according to Christian principles. All of the forgoing processes lead to what might be called the structuring of change. Part of the responsibility of the Christian caregiver is to assist the client in finding different options other than the ones they have been using.
- Evaluation is needed, or making sure the client is being prepared for life without a mentor or discipler.
It is important that the caregiver recognizes that his role is that of a comforter and a helper. The caregiver functions in human form like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes alongside an individual to assist the counselee in dealing with a difficult area in their life. It is of the utmost importance not to become a rescuer or a kind of Messiah. Each counselee must be responsible for their own behavior and hurt, but the caregiver is there to assist in the bearing of burdens and thus fulfilling the law of Christ (Gal.6:2).
Caregiving is a process and many problems are inherent in the process. Some of the problems include:
- Not every client is going to tell the truth about their whole story or, at best, they will distort the reality of situations because they are looking at the situation through their own eyes.
- Another major problem that can occur has to do with the an individual and how they got to be the way they are is known (what social dynamic or family dynamics have led to the present situation) then it may not be possible to come to a proper conclusion and give adequate counsel. This lack of sufficient information has happened many times to marriage and family caregivers. It is better to err to the side of getting too much information than not enough.
- At times clients will lack the motivation for change. They may be coming to caregiving because they have been pressured by a spouse who has said, “If you don’t change, I’ll divorce you.” Part of the responsibility of the caregiver is to motivate the clients by presenting the Word of God and presenting how Jesus wants them to grow in His grace and knowledge.
- Another problem in caregiving can occur because of the authority vested in the caregiver. A Christian leader does operate under the authority or the mantle of the Holy Spirit, as a priest would have, or a wise man in the Old Testament. This authority should only be used for the benefit of others.
- Caregiving ministry deals to a great extent with heightened and often intense emotions. Emotions are by nature unstable and illogical, and should not be expected to be otherwise. The goal is to assist the person to process through their feelings so as to understand that their thought life is what triggers those emotions. They must learn to renew their minds so they can control the emotions
A short summary of caregiving guidelines may be helpful before moving to the next section of this book on specific problems to address in caregiving ministry.
- Cooperation with the Holy Spirit is imperative.
- Confidentiality is essential.
- Timing is very important.
- Good listening skills must be developed.
- The caregiver should be aware of any previous caregiving.
- The Word of God is an indispensable tool in caregiving.
- The leader should take every opportunity to help the client build a healthy response toward God.
Of course, to properly care for someone begins with a good understanding of the problem, which is often referred to as assessment.