Wisdom as outcome of the pastoral process: reflections on a positive pastoral narrative approach

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    From a South African perspective, pastoral care is typically concerned with the solving or resolving of critical issues such as marital crises or depression. It represents an approach that is based on a medical or disease model, addressing deficits rather than strengths in the lives of counselees. Therapeutic developments in the fields of the narrative approach and positive psychology have shifted the attention to the therapeutic nurturing of liberating stories and the strengthening of virtues. Thus, the quality of the human experience by capitalising on what is healthy and intact is enhanced. This article will explore the notion that the pastoral process should aim at understanding and nurturing emotional and spiritual strengths with wisdom as the outcome, rather than trying to unravel spiritual deficits as strategy for healing. Such a positive approach relies on wisdom as a foundational virtue. By cultivating wisdom, counselees become fit for a well-lived life. In light of this, the necessity for widening our traditional pastoral horizons is discussed. Scripture and positive psychology are considered as sources to inform the pastoral process on wisdom and the narrative is discussed as a means to uncover and cultivate wisdom in the lives of counselees. Markers for a positive pastoral narrative approach, aimed at the cultivation of wisdom, are suggested. This article endeavours to contribute to the enrichment of pastoral practitioners’ frame of reference by drawing on the insights of neighbouring helping-disciplines, like the narrative and positive psychology employed within a practical theological paradigm, hence contributing to the ongoing call (semper reformanda) to always renew our theological endeavours.