Last week we talked about realizing your power and accepting the limits of your power. The gist of it was that God gives you a certain amount of power to care for others in cooperation with what He is doing. When you lose the perspective that you are participating with God and put yourself in the place of God, then you experience brokenness.
Gerkin recommends a model that helps caregivers keep this power-powerlessness quandary in perspective. The caregivers, first, must understand that usually the people they are dealing with are often having their own powerless crisis. They are powerless to fix their situation and are doubting God’s providential care. They wonder if the Divine will provide a meaningful outcome…if He can or will make everything OK.
Once caregivers understand the issue underlying people’s crisis, Gerkin describes three roles for the caregiver. The first role is the incarnate representation of the power of God. During the crisis, God can seem absent or unreachable. The role of the caregiver is to be the symbol of this Divine in the midst of the crisis. The goal is to restore the trust in the incarnation that God is with us.
Next caregivers help people find hope that God will make Himself known. People of faith sometimes forget that they have resources beyond their ability to cope. The caregivers’ role is to assist people find hope and expectation of God’s disclosure and to gain an immediate sense of the Divine presence in the crisis. The intent is to restore people’s faith to trust in God’s providential care.
Finally, caregivers develop a relationship as shepherds in which they facilitate people through life transforming crises. Crises are often the instigator of change, which leads to transformation. It is, many times, how God works in the world and in people’s lives. The role as shepherd involves being virtual participants in people’s lives. They are not simply observers or describers of someone’s story. Caregivers do not have the power to transform lives but, through their relationships, God is able to work and form new realities.