What is God Showing You About People in Your Care? 

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Every fulfilling relationship requires intentionality: a day-in, day-out choice to do things that nourish our connections with those we love. That’s why we prepare for our time with the people we care for–working in advance on everything from the questions we’ll ask in a hospital room to the food we’ll bring a family during a time of grief, or how long we’ll stay at the home of a person we’re praying with.    

But one of the best uses of intentionality comes between care appointments: in our time with God, lingering in prayer over each individual God has called us to care for. Years ago, a friend asked me, “How would our discipleship be different if we were intentional to linger in prayer about other people’s longings, losses, and dreams?” 

In visits with the people you care for, what patterns are you noticing about their behavior? How do they talk about their emotions? Their decisions? Their habits? Their outlook on their situations? How are those shaping their deep desires and conversations with God?   

Part of Christian maturity is the ability to identify patterns in people’s situations, choices, and temperament–and to listen in prayer for ways God may be speaking about those. What is God showing you about the people in your care? Most of us want to listen to God’s voice about the people we love–but few of us know how to enter into that kind of relational discernment.  

One of the ways we can start leaning into these prayerful practices is simply by putting into our calendar specific times where we will be guided (whether by a specific Scripture, a group of specific prayer exercises, or a combination of other resources) into listening for God’s voice about our own lives and the lives of others.  

To start this, identify a time and place where you’ll regularly listen for God’s voice. Start by listening and setting aside time of silence, then move through the resources you have, and presenting what’s on your heart.  

Once you’ve done that, consider engaging specific questions that relate to the people in your care. You may have your own; but if not, consider using the ones below as a starting point. Use whichever ones seem helpful, and ignore the rest.   

  • What do you see? Observe the room you’re entering as if you were a reporter. Use your senses. Jot a description down of what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. Over the past few times you’ve been together, how has this changed? What’s stayed the same? What gives you cause for concern, celebration, or further exploration? What do you notice keeping them up at night? What’s true about their brightest moments of hope?  
  • Where is God in….? Re-examining the way you perceived the room–and their demeanor–prayerfully imagine where God is in the room, and their situation. What’s he doing? What would he say to this person and their habits/practices/outlook? Linger with this for a moment or two.   
  • “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.”  You’ve paid attention to the room, you’ve lingered seeking God’s presence; before you rush to constructing something to say, pause for long enough to examine if something is from God. Even if you’re sure you’ve heard something with God, it might not resonate in another person’s life. Approach it (both in your head and in your conversation with them, if you have it), with the mindset of “maybe it is” from God, or “maybe it isn’t.” 
  • How might we…? Ask a question of the person you’re caring for about what it looks like to support them and lift their situation to God together. Questions like, “What does support look like?” or “How might we lift this to the Lord together?” or “If you’re really honest, what would you ask God for?”  

Finally–after listening, processing, and pausing, linger for a moment with God over what you think you’ve heard; ask the Holy Spirit to correct where your perception is wrong, and to encourage the people you care for toward maturity and faithfulness to God’s invitation.

As much as this process may yield better things to say to the people you care for, the ultimate purpose isn’t just better advice; it’s a relationship rooted in the words, motivations, and attitudes of God.  

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Ethan Linder

Ethan Linder is the Pastor of Hospitality, Collegians, and Young Adults at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and the Editor of The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development writing staff.

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