Untitled Sermon (6)
Critical Analysis of Interview With Hilda
· 28yrs old
· Married for 5yrs
· Mother of 3, though her second was a miscarriage early last year and she is currently pregnant with No. 3 (due July 2nd), Her Eldest is 2.
· Hilda worked until recently as a Pastoral Care worker at a Young Adults service. She was in this position for 7yrs, 2 of them as payed staff. She resigned from this position two weeks ago.
· Attends additional morning service.
In our discussion I have recognized two main areas of pastoral care.
2. Healthy intimate relationships
Having just finished her job as a pastoral care worker Hilda noted that her mind continues to reflect on her time at the evening service, both the work and the relationships that she participated in.
The reflection process that Hilda is current performing is an indicator or healthy cognition for this stage in her life. According Piaget’s Cognitive development theory, at this stage in life Hilda should be capable of both evaluating experiences and creating hypothesis for future life. By Piaget’s reasoning Hilda ability to evaluate and identify positive and negative variables within relational interactions, and consider different options for the future is a raging success. The bible likewise encourages periods of self-reflection to process and grow spiritually.
1 Corinthians 11:28 says “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup”
Here Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to reflect on and resolve the conflicts that exists within the church before coming to communion together, rather than pretending there were no issues and continuing in ongoing community.
In Psalm 139:23-24 David says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
In this Psalm we find David asking the Lord to reveal the depth of sin within his own heart. This shows a desire and a need for self-reflection for a healthy Christian life. Kirkman says that Christians must be consistently taking time to reflect on their lives and hearts in order to grow and retain healthy spiritual lives as well as grow and maintain a healthy community. This is true even when you are processing the seasons of life that you have just left, as it is with Hilda.
There are a number of ways in which Hilda may engage in self-reflection well. The University of Edinburgh highlight 4 main methods.
1. Written Reflection (Diary or Journal, reports / essays, blogging, post-it notes.
a. This can help slow down the mind down and create greater focus
b. Allows you to more accurately examine your own thoughts, being able revisit them in the future.
c. Provides a record of your growth in thought
2. Conversation with self (Videos, Audio Recordings)
a. Reduces getting lost in thought
b. Helps come to conclusion and the ramification of such conclusions.
c. Very intentionally reflective – less bitsy than allowing your mind to do it at random, if it does it at all.
3. Reflection with others (friends, group, boss, mentor)
a. Be asked questions that you wouldn’t think to ask yourself.
b. Provides a perspective we would otherwise be unfamiliar with
c. Can go to more than one person for different perspectives.
4. Creative media (Painting, drawing, song writing)
a. For some that process better with a different use of words or without them all together.
Despite all these wonderful methods of self-reflection, it will come to little value without a foundation of prayer. We see in Psalm 139 that David expresses an inability to know the complex depths of his own sinful heart. Jeremiah 17:9 shares David’s evaluation of the heart saying “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”. No matter the amount of time or method of self-reflection we cannot understand the truth of our experiences without divine revelation. David and Jeremiah both knew that only the Lord knows the truth of our hearts. As Christians we must likewise pursue self-reflection from our knees in prayer.
It is important that Hilda does each step of this self-reflection from a place of prayer.
Pastoral Care from the Church
It is important that the church identify the need for a time of reflection after a big change like this for Hilda, and provide the encouragement and materials to do this well. The material could look like a simple gift of a nice journal, and organised baby sitting (difficult during COVID). More importantly it looks like a season of intentionally making yourself available to listening to Hilda process her reflection. Where suitable encouraging her to place thoughts within a biblical framework and doing all possible to ensure this time of reflection results in healthy growth for Hilda, and not embitterment.
It would be a good idea to make Hilda aware that the church would value any of her feedback from her time working at the church if she is comfortable doing so after a period of reflection. Her input would be of great value to the church.
Additionally, the church should assure Hilda of her ongoing value within the church even though she is not longer on staff. This would be done best by her old co-workers making contact with her to see how she is going and maintaining relationship with her.
Seeking Intimate Relationships
In the reflection that Hilda has already done, she noted that the Young Adults she ministered to where almost totally self-consumed. This was noticed gradually over her years of work, but felt especially when she suffered the loss of her second child in miscarriage. Hilda found very little care available in the young adult’s service where she ministered. Though she shared only with a few of the more trusted young adults she found their reactions to be undesirable. Hilda did receive care at the morning service, and from friends and family.
In reaction to noticing the Young Adults consumeristic attitude, and inability to care for others Hilda is driven to avoid similar pitfalls. She expressed in our conversation that what she is most looking forward to in the coming season is investing in relationships that do more than just take her care, but offer it as well. She is however unsure as to what that looks like, and is asking her self the question “how do I have more balanced relationships where there is give and take?”
Hilda’s observation of Young Adults consumeristic attitude is not isolated. Blomberg recognized in her years of service to young adults in Colorado, that this was a common attitude. She comments that it can be a biproduct of their teenage development as they find their own identity. Eric Erickson in his theory of psychosocial stages identifies that the main goal of young adults after finding their self-identity in the teenage years is progress into developing healthy intimate relationships with others. What Hilda noticed in the young adult’s consumerism, was simply the very beginning of this stage. What Hilda may have not noticed however, was her own progress in this stage. Though clearly as a pastoral care worker she was no longer battling consumerism, her excitement over investing in healthy relationships, and question of how to have more balanced ones is a more advanced stage of the same process.
Bass and Briehl recommend that in order to best overcome consumerism is to be involved in relationships within the church. They comment that this stage cannot be overcome in isolation but requires participation and pursuit of loving Christian relationships that are focused on others. It is in the church that the healthiest relationships that grow and mature one another should be found.
In Colossians 1:28-29 Paul points to Christ-likeness being the indicator of maturity, and more importantly to our point, that Paul with all the power that Christ has given him seeks to ensure this maturity is had by everyone in the church. Paul is not alone in his focus on the welfare of others within the church. It is in face a responsibility of the entire church to be focused on the maturation of one another. Bass and Briehl could not have been more correct. The solution to developing healthy relationships is found in participating in the relationships of the church.
Hilda is already heading in the right direction to continued her development in the young adult stage of having healthy intimate relationships. But, this shows the churches great responsibility in ensuring the healthy development of it’s people even from a young age. In Hilda’s care it will be important that she is welcomed into the new setting with open arms, and made to feel loved and cared for. Additionally, Like Paul, it is critical that members in the church are intentional in the pursuit of Hilda’s growth and maturity into Christlikness. Without being intentional in the care of Hilda in loving discipleship she will find herself isolated in room full of people.
Overall, Hilda’s ability to reflect on her past experience and desire to grow healthier more balanced relationships in the future is a sign of healthy progression in this stage of her life. She has been able to self-evaluate and identify variable within her relationships and conversations that are undesirable. Also, recognising that to grow as a christian away from her own consumerism she must be participating in healthy relationships withing the church.
"Ways of reflecting." https://www.ed.ac.uk/reflection/reflectors-toolkit/producing-reflections/ways-reflecting, 2018.
Bass, D. C. B., Susan R. On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2010.
Berk, L. E. Development Through the Lifespan. Fifth International ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010.
Blomberg, F. "Contentment: Radical Discipleship for Young Adults." Journal of European Baptist Studies 17, no. 1 (2017): 18.
Kirkman, A. "Spiritual Development and the Need for Self Reflection." https://seattlechristiancounseling.com/articles/spiritual-development-and-the-need-for-self-reflection, 2019.
 L. E. Berk, Development Through the Lifespan (Fifth International ed.; Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010), 20.
 A. Kirkman, "Spiritual Development and the Need for Self Reflection," https://seattlechristiancounseling.com/articles/spiritual-development-and-the-need-for-self-reflection, 2019.
 "Ways of reflecting," https://www.ed.ac.uk/reflection/reflectors-toolkit/producing-reflections/ways-reflecting, 2018.
 F. Blomberg, "Contentment: Radical Discipleship for Young Adults," Journal of European Baptist Studies 17, no. 1 (2017): 40-41.
 Berk, Development, 17.
 D. C. B. Bass, Susan R., On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2010), 12.