This text provided me with a new technique for pastoral care and counseling. Using personal stories and relating them to Bible stories, it is possible to demonstrate our position in the unfolding drama of God’s creation. After reading this text, I became aware of how natural the use of personal narrative can be. In fact, it is something I have done many times in my own work, although I did not know it was actually a recognized “technique”.
Wimberly refers to the work of other authors in pointing out that crisis situations will bring core beliefs to the surface. He writes,.
“Core beliefs are deep metaphors, images that point to the plots or directions of life; they under gird the behaviors of people as they attempt to live their lives, and normally, they are rooted in stories.” (p12).
These core beliefs have plots that give us reasons for living and help us to discern the direction our lives are taking. When core beliefs and plots are related to the Exodus story, the life and death of Christ, and the way God has been involved in people’s lives, then it is considered to be the faith story. This faith story helps us to discover “why” we are here in this world.
The primary goal of using the narrative approach in pastoral care is in the realization that our personal stories are a part of god’s unending story. We can look to history and see that God is faithful and things work out in the end. The counseling method is to help provide a link between people in crisis and God’s story.
Wimberly points out that storytelling in pastoral care does not have the same function as in preaching and worship. From a narrative perspective, pastoral care uses storytelling to strengthen people’s growth in self and in relationships. We bring all of the resources of the faith story into the context of the caring relationship. As our people respond to the many struggles of life, we use the gospel to respond to their needs.