The Challenge of Caring Well for Others
We all desire to care well for those in our circles and spheres of influence. How do we determine other people’s needs and then respond accordingly? Read on for some helpful tips on how to initiate caring, productive conversations in order to identify others’ needs and best next steps.
Learn Their Needs
Pursue people in your sphere of influence. No need to overthink or hyper-strategize; just come up with a couple of names and reach out, preferably by phone (vs. text or email). Ask people what’s going on in their lives.
Don’t just reach out to the people whom you know are struggling—although you should call them, too—because even those who appear to have it “all together” still have needs. Whether the needs are relational, financial, spiritual, or emotional, some people may need extra help to identify and express them.
Pay attention to the “crumbs” people may drop in the form of casual comments, social media activity, or sharing about life events. The things people talk about, post about, and show interest in can help reveal what’s important to them and expose a need in the process. Watch for clues about discouragement, financial hardship, and relational strain.
As you pick up on these clues, mention them as springboards to conversation or even the motivation for your call. For example, you might say, “I’ve been thinking of people I care about and God put you on my mind. I remembered you mentioned something about your dad the other day. How’s everything going with him?” is a better conversation tool than “How is everything?” Curiosity used well can foster conversation and demonstrate care.
Resource the Needs
As you engage with people around you, needs will eventually surface. As mentioned above, these needs might fall into different categories. You don’t need to be an expert in specific areas, but you can always make helpful suggestions or do what is known as “defer and refer.”
To “D&R” means to acknowledge that you don’t know or have the right tools to meet a need, but you can give a reference to someone who does.
Chase Oaks offers a wealth of resources to help meet the needs of those in our church and broader community:
Prayer request form – visit here to submit public or private prayer requests.
Specific Need Form – visit here to submit a request for assistance with a specific need (functional, spiritual, financial, etc.).
Love Fund – available for Chase Oakers to apply for church assistance with certain financial obligations (typically related to mortage/rent and utilities).
Counseling - visit our Care page for more information about counseling resources. Chase Oakers can receive one free assessment from a curated network of Christian counselors through the Watershed Initiative, and then obtain a recommendation for continued counseling (often at a reduced rate).
Care Groups – the following groups offer more specific or care-oriented focus:
- Illuminate provides a better understanding of our thought patterns, emotional and relational health, and how we relate to others.
- Ignite is designed to enrich any marriage and specifically works on communicating well through conflict (an essential skill!)
- GriefShare and DivorceCare offer supportive and healing communities for those grieving the death of a loved or processing the pain of divorce, respectively.
- 2to1 is for those who are seriously dating or engaged to be married.
- Forgiven and Set Free is a safe and supportive group for women to find God’s forgiveness, healing, and freedom from the shame often felt after abortion.
- The Harbor strives to help teens (8th-12th grade) learn healthy ways to cope with life and to deal with anxiety and pain through the lens of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about each of these groups.
Once their need is identified, be ready to ask about and offer a next step. And know that the best next step doesn’t have to be a referral. There may be other practical ways to help: organizing a meal train, running errands, completing chores around the house, or just committing to a follow up conversation with a comment like, “Would it be OK if we talked about this again?”
Normalize the Needs
Throughout the process, let others know that it is ok to have a need and to accept help. While each person's specific situation may be unique, having a basic functional or relational need is not. God designed us to depend on Him and one another. Sharing the reality of your own needs can encourage others to share theirs; hearing someone say, “You and me both!” can have tremendous impact.
Finally, if you say you’ll pray, please pray. If you make a commitment to follow up or respond in a certain way, be sure to do it. We’ve been given opportunity to lead and care for others, and we do that best when we show up with love and a willingness to act.
No matter what, when someone shares a need or a part of their life with you, they have given you a gift. Honor that gift with appropriate handling of what they’ve shared as you prayerfully consider whether or how these needs or information should be shared with others.
If at any time you feel in over your head, please reach out. You are the primary point of contact but you do not need to be the only one—we’re here to help!
Find more resources, including DIY Self-Care Tools and a list of Assistance Resources for Collin County, at our Care page.