I struggle to remember definitions. So when a friend asked me how I would define “care” for a podcast, I had to do some reflecting.
Care is considering the needs of another person, discerning my role in meeting them, and doing as much of my role as I can.
I’ll unpack that in a minute, but I got the starting point from a Greek word: epimeleomai. It means to take care of, involving forethought and provision. Jesus uses this word to talk about the Good Samaritan.
[The Samaritan man] went to [the beaten man] and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Care starts with the other person, not us. It starts with looking at their situation, whether physical, psychological, relational, spiritual, structural. It starts with assessing what they need.
Care moves to discerning our role in meeting some of those needs. You can’t meet all of them. We’re not built to meet all of them. But there are some needs that you are created, trained, experienced, to notice and possibly to meet. (One way to decide what our role is may be to consider what we notice that others don’t. And this discerning process includes conversation with God.)
Care then moves from caring about to caring for. Having seen what you can do, you have to do it. As much as you can, in consort with others who are caring in other ways, without looking for attention, and without downplaying the value of what you are doing.
If what you are built to notice is unheld hands, hold hands. If you see noisiness, offer silence. If you see hunger, offer an apple (sliced). If you see a structure destroying lives and you have the means to bring change, bring change.
How does this resonate with you?