Nurturing and Being Nurtured

By Ron Libby, Counseling, Leadership

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.  Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. – Galatians 6:1-2 AMP




Nurture Defined.

  1. The activity of caring for others and nourishing them in the life of faith. In our application of this, it applies to nurturing the broken, lonely, and hurting brothers and sisters.
  2. Nurture as a verb refers to an impartation or action. It means to care for and encourage the growth and development of (nourish or support); Cherish; Care for and protect someone while they are growing, all the while nurturing them in their woundedness and time of need; come along side of.
  3. Nurture as a noun refers to the process of caring for and encouraging the growth and development of someone or something; Care, direction, provisions, or nourishment.

Mothers nurture naturally by caring for their children and feeding them what will bring nourishment and health to their bodies. Children have a deep need  to feel love and security. It is a “feeling” they need to experience. Nurturing is giving a person what they need.

Spiritual nurturing happens through ministering to people by loving, empathizing, and sympathizing.

  1. Don’t just say “pray about it”, “trust God”, “it’s only for a season” or “it happens to everyone”. These are true statements but can come across as trite, empty, and stale. The nature of nurture is to convey a “feeling” and flow of love that comes from God through you to the person in need. The person has to feel it and for them to feel it, you must feel it as well. If you don’t, they won’t. You have to CARE. If you give trite answers or responses, you are not nurturing. Care can be an emotion that people need to feel. Jesus sent a feeling of care and love. You and I must be emphatic and passionate to convey the same. We should not be casual. If you can’t help them feel that care, you have fallen short. People need to feel God’s love come from you as the vessel. They need to hear and feel “living” words. If you can’t convey that, you are not nurturing. If you are a pastor but not a nurturer, you may want to ponder on that. Other than to the hypocritical Sanhedrins, when Jesus spoke with strength, command, and directly, He was not caustic. Even in direct admonition, He was nurturing. 
  1. In Mark 10:21 the Bible says “…Jesus beholding him loved him…”. The background to this story involves Jesus talking to a rich, young ruler who was asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. In the Greek, the word “behold” means to see. Jesus saw deep into the rich, young ruler. As a result, he, meaning Jesus, responded with love and care because he could see through to the ruler’s heart. Because of this, the rich, young ruler did not just hear Jesus’s response, but he felt Jesus’s love. Beholding, therefore, is an example of nurture.
  1. The opposite of nurturing is deprivation, starvation, neglect, or negligence. This is what happens when trite answers are given. How many times have we been negligent and wrapped up in our own worlds? How many times have we thought, “someone else will do it”?

Pastors and their wives come to us broken, hurting, parched, and confused.

  1. They are in need of nurturing. The best way to be lifted is to lift someone else up. When you lift up someone else, you automatically become lifted. Nurturing others creates nurture for you!

Jesus was a nurturer.

  1. He created it, showed us how to do it, and asks that we perpetuate it. The need for nurture is so deep. My joy on a daily basis is finding someone I can lift and encourage because of the reciprocity. Jesus reciprocates nurture to us.
  2. He called people out of sin and lifted the broken – this is an example of nurture. One part of our job is to lead others out of sin, depression and brokenness by sensitive caregivers and into nurture. It is a selfless ministry, which is why many people do not do it because they are too selfish and impatient. Jesus was selfless and nurtured us. Shouldn’t we do the same to others by helping others feel God’s restorative love?

John 8:4-10 (KJV) 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Some scholars speculate that the woman caught in adultery was Mary Magdalene. If that is true, what if Jesus did not nurture and restore her? While her community wanted to murder her, Jesus nurtured her. Her neighbors wanted to stone her – does that sound like nurturing?

Is ignoring a need nurturing? Is laziness? Is there someone who is hurting or feeling rejected that you can nurture today as Jesus did? What if you miss an opportunity to nurture someone? Nurturing others should be a lifestyle and something we do in our daily life with our brothers and sisters, neighbors, strangers etc. POR calls should not be a mere telephone conversation with another brother or sister.

Some hurting people who you may be working with might have   anger or bitterness because of how others have treated them.

  1. Another part of our job is to “call them out” on the attitudes they have and point out that they need to demonstrate forgiveness. This is another example of nurture.
  1. Having the right attitude (forgiveness) leads to nurture which leads to illuminating what the person you’re working with needs to repent about. Remember that forgiveness is freeing and learning to forgive allows a person to be free. Forgiveness is not for the one who is in need of forgiveness. It is for the one forgiving because it sets them free from the offense. We should point out that a person cannot be free until they forgive.

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. 

If a person is not forgiving, then that person will be harder to win over as described in this scripture.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV) Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (MESSAGE) God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

  1. Are we all doing this? Is the body of Christ doing this? As POR, this is what we should be doing. It is our Mission!

POR reps and caregivers are only as successful by the measure of our ability to nurture.

Low talent in nurture = low success in lifting brothers and sisters.

High talent in nurture = much success in lifting brothers and sisters.

You have to possess nurturing to give nurture.