Excerpted from Come Quickly, Dawn, by George Patterson
Teach these general, basic guidelines for non-professional member care, to shepherds of new cells and congregations.
1. Let God’s light shine on the problem. Ask Him to make His Presence known and to bring His power to bear. Some ills yield only to Jesus’ miraculous touch.
2. Listen until a problem’s root is apparent. The real issue is seldom one’s first complaint. Family conflict is rarely one-sided, so hear both sides. If one gripes that a spouse quarrels a lot, then find out what provokes the quarrels.
3. Restore communication. Let quarrelers listen to each other, “speaking the truth in love,” Let one repeat the other’s complaint, to make sure both understand each other. Do not let them interrupt each other.
4. Confess past sins and bad thoughts to God. Trust the Lord to forgive (1 John 1:8-10). To shed bad habits and demonic oppression, have them confess their old sins, any occult activity, resentment or grudges, and have them ask Jesus to free them from these sins. Do not try to do this alone.
5. Forgive as Jesus forgives us (Eph. 4:32). Let an offense be a chance to show God’s grace. Teach them to accept being defrauded rather than to try to get even (1 Cor. 6:7).
6. Give care in a small group. Loving friends help troubled folk face the truth. “In many advisors there is victory” (Prov. 11:14).
7. Behave prudently with the opposite sex. To give care to one of the other sex, have a spouse or other person within sight.
8. Sustain family ties with love and respect. Ephesians 5 instructs husbands to love their wives as Jesus loved the church and gave His life for it, and advises wives to submit to their husbands as to Christ, and to respect them.
9. Speak discretely. Keep secrets, never reveal confessions and do not repeat rumors. Prov. 20:19 warns, “A slanderer reveals secrets… do not associate with a gossip.”
10. Help those who want help. Coaching addicts and others who need help when they do not want it does not work. Some enjoy being victims and stay in chronic crisis to get attention. Do not abet such selfishness; rather help them look out for interests of others. (Phil. 2).
11. Avoid adding one stress to another. When compounded, anxiety, fatigue, solitude and pride bring despair. If an actual painful or stressful event triggers despondency, then one recovers easier. Elijah lost heart when he let such common stresses pile up.