To Care or Not to Care ?????????

“. . . take care of it willingly . . .”




“. . . I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve.” (I Peter 5:1-2)

What a sight to see!  This nest was under the deck of one of the houses we were staying in during our youth mission project at Virginia Beach last week.  During our time off we watched as the two birds went back again and again, tirelessly feeding the four large babies in their nest.  When I watch such miracles I have to ask, “How do the parents know to care for the babies?  Why do they care for the babies?  Why don’t the adults just fly away?”  I know that the answer in one way or another lies in the way God created and “wired” these magnificent little creatures.  The details are a sacred mystery that invite me to wonder about us and caring . . .



I guess I was particularly focused on those questions not just because I was watching the birds, but also because I was engaged with our youth in several different projects designed to care for others in the Virginia Beach area – especially the impoverished and homeless.  All of it has caused me to wonder, “Why do we care?  Do we have a choice?  Why do we choose to care?  Why do we choose to not care?  Why do we choose to stop caring?  How do we keep on caring?” 

I know that when I’ve worked with children in the midst of divorces I’ve seen those children wrestle with the reality of caring and the potential terror that might emerge — “So mommy and daddy are getting a divorce . . . mommy and daddy have quit caring for each other . . . does that mean mommy and daddy will decide to quit caring for me?”  That’s the terror that confronts the child – we have the capacity to choose to care or not care.  Of course we quickly assure the child in a divorce that just because mommy and daddy don’t care for each other any more they will never quit caring for the child ( and most, but not all the time, it turns out that way). 

I guess what I’m aware of is that caring is a sacred invitation that we as humans are offered from God and dare not take lightly.  It is possible to quit caring.  We’re cared for first by God and then through others, we’re shown how to care, we’re invited to care – but ultimately we have to choose to care  — or not.  In the passage from I Peters I quoted above the author seems well aware that caring for others does not simply happen.  “I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly,” the author says and in doing so makes it apparent that he is aware that we can choose to care, not care, or care begrudgingly. 

In order to continue to care our relationships need continuous, prioritized attention.  We need to live with the awareness that it is very, very possible for us to quit caring.  I In order to care willingly (and not begrudgingly) in all our relationships (and to seek to care for the stranger) we need to be constantly nourished by God’s loving care for us.  If we do not spend time in worship, prayer, and fellowship so we feel God’s loving care for us through Christ, we will find ourselves “cared-out” in one relationship or another.  I pray that I will continually seek God’s care for me – that I will continually seek for God’s Spirit to feed me – so that I can continue to care.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on June 19, 2013.

One Response to “To Care or Not to Care ?????????”

  1. Great video I love love it.

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