• Laura Howe

Missing the Mark in Care Ministry



by Laura Howe - Hope Made Strong - Guest Writer


There are four things that affect the value of an object.

· Usability - Does it meet a need?

· Rareness - How difficult is it to replace?

· Aesthetic - Does it have intrinsic beauty?

· Emotional value - Are you personally connected to it?

My daughter is a collector. She is currently away at sleep-over camp this week, and I’m taking the opportunity to clean her room. I know, I know she should be able to do it herself. But you haven’t met my daughter.

Even when asked, she doesn’t clean her room. She just becomes better at hiding stuff. In fact, as a toddler, we used to call her a squirrel.

My daughter finds value in rocks, string, broken toys, and of course her ripped-up baby blanket (don’t worry, I won’t throw blankie out).

These “broken” things have beauty, they are rare to her and for some reason, she feels rocks have emotional value.

We never know what is valuable to another person.

My daughter is also a child that as soon as I tell her she can have something, it loses its value. Permission lowers the rareness. It becomes ordinary. Let’s translate this to care ministry.

When you offer care...

· Does it meet a felt need?

· Is it difficult to replace or replicate?

· Is it beautiful and full of grace?

· Is it personal?

Like my sweet daughter has shown what is valuable to one person is different to another. So, what may seem simple to you, may be highly valuable to others.

Let’s take it one step further.

On The Care Ministry Podcast, Dr. Hilda Davis talked about how to engage older adults beyond Bingo in her flashback talk from the 2021 Church Mental Health Summit.

So often we assume what is valuable to this group of people. Bingo, Bible Study, Coffee, Chat. And for all I know, these might be very valuable to your older adults’ group. But it’s best to ask them what they feel is valuable. When we assume what is valuable for others, oftentimes we miss the mark and our efforts are not accepted, welcomed, or may be seen as disrespectful or dismissive. A simple conversation asking the group what they want and what they see as valuable in a ministry can go a long way.

Care doesn’t have to be over-the-top extraordinary every time. Like my daughter’s rocks, people often like simple things that meet a need, are rare, difficult to do themselves and have a personal touch.

Used with permission from Laura Howe <laura@hopemadestrong.org> August 11, 2022, post.

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