Who do you care for?

Recently, I attended a presentation where the keynote speaker posed the question, “Who do you care for?" My immediate thoughts were of family members – my husband, children, grandchildren and elderly parents. Many in the audience had similar responses, but we were asked to consider the question more broadly.

The speaker asked if managers just “manage”, teachers just “teach”, doctors just provide “medical treatment”, or is the task of caring also of primary concern? The speaker also challenged us to consider how we value people in our society whose main role is providing unpaid care, for example, of children, elderly family members and those living with a disability.

Gathering in small groups, we were invited to silently reflect on these questions and to then share our thoughts. I was surprised by the variety of responses.

Almost half the people at my table were older, single and with no children. They spoke passionately about how their lives were enriched by caring for people in their neighbourhood. Another person noted how her managerial style changed when she realised God wanted her to not only manage her staff, but to also show a genuine, caring attitude towards them. As she came to appreciate the unique gifts of each staff member and what they required to maintain a healthy work, life and family balance, the stronger and happier the team grew as a whole. We also discussed the dilemma many people face when they must choose between providing unpaid care and entering the paid workforce, enabling them to have financial security.  

Our discussion then turned to who were the people we valued most in our lives. Without doubt, it was mainly unpaid carers who featured — our parents, the saints who cared for the outcasts, the lonely and the poor (think here of Mother Teresa, St Vincent de Paul, St Francis of Assisi) and Jesus.

If you are in a caring role that involves sacrifices, including stresses and strains on your financial situation, how are you coping? If it is a struggle, I invite you to take a moment to ponder the following words from Scripture:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

"And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’"

Matthew 25:37-40 NRSVCE

May these words affirm within you the value of caring for others. And on those days when the emotional and financial cost of caring weighs you down, do not hesitate to call on Jesus to walk with you.


Image:  Lightstock
Words: Sharon Brewer

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