Pastoral Care Training Pack

Unit 2: Listening - The God Who Listens

2.1       Scripture & Worship



Loving Father,, you who are alive to the joys and sorrows, challenges and achievements, heroism and faltering of all your children; give us the grace to imitate your son in according due concern, respect and love to all those we encounter, showing particular attention to those who have a tale to tell, ensuring that they command our full attention and engagement so that they might have better peace in mind and body; we pray to you through that son and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Can: Lord, Hear us
Res: Lord, Graciously hear us.

  1. Heavenly Father, we pray for all those who are lonely and in need of companionship that we may be companions to them and that we may all be your good companions.
  2. Heavenly Father, who cares for every hair on our head and every second of our lives, help us to care for detail as well as for the big picture so that we value all that those who seek to serve have to offer; give us the strength to make listening a creative sacrifice and not a contest or a brake on our ego.
  3. Heavenly Father, the sole and eternal judge, give us the grace to love and not to judge.
  4. Heavenly Father, you sent your son to be a pattern of human faithfulness and love, give us the strength to imitate, if only faintly, his life of brotherly compassion and his uncomplaining death
  5. Heavenly Father, when those we serve are distressed or confused, send down The Holy Spirit on us so that we may possess the strength and skill to comfort and so that those who are distressed may have the capacity to be relieved.

2.2       Introduction

Ordinarily we like people who listen to what we have to say, particularly as most of the conversation we experience is competitive rather than constructive or sympathetic. there is a very special creativity in silence and people who are suffering from some kind of hardship or distress have a particular need of listening as it is one of the ways in which they can share the burden; and in talking they can often explain to themselves how they feel, untangling the inevitable knots which result from hardship and tension. In listening in full love, concern and respect to those we seek to serve we are honouring The Father, imitating Jesus and leaving ourselves open to the power of The Spirit.

In this Unit we will consider:

The outcomes we hope to achieve are:

2.3       Key Concepts

  1. Confidentiality - Confidentiality is a mutual agreement on the terms in which any details of a conversation may or may not be revealed to third parties; it must always be explicit and never assumed, implied or implicit; the terms of any agrement might also be moderated by mutual consent in the light of the way in which a conversation turns out. Whenever there is a difference of opinion on the terms of a confidentiality agreement the wish of the person being served will generally over-ride the wish of the pastoral carer; but no confidentiality agreement is absolute but is subject to breach to prevent a greater harm. In extreme instances where the listener judges disclosure to be justified  she must disclose her intention unless by so doing more harm will be created than by remaining silent. The conditions which apply to the Sacrament of Reconciliation are quite distinct from this process.
  2. Listening - Listening is an active but non directive process which requires:
    • Awareness of what is being said and not just physical hearing;
    • Undivided attention and very sparing interruption, even when silences and pauses seem unduly long;
    • Careful noting of key details;
    • Awareness of what is not being said but may be felt;
    • Awareness of body language and non verbal clues;
    • Remaining calm;
    • Maintaining eye contact without staring;
    • Using posture to indicate interest.
  3. Response - The process of responding is a constructive, active non-judgmental method of providing support to the person being served, independent of any personal feelings of the listener unless both parties agree (and the presumption of listeners should be not to agree) that there is a need for the listening process to become a dialogue where the experience of the listener might yield positive results. Response requires:
    • A special regard for accuracy;
    • Empathy which is cautious in drawing conclusions;
    • Questioning that serves the needs of the talker not the listener;
    • Patience which involves the minimal use of prompts;
    • Sparing, constructive verbal response, keeping to the subject, avoiding egotistic use of personal experience;
    • Use of sensitive challenge in exceptional circumstances.

2.4       Presentation

2.5       Case Sketches

  1. Steve has broken his leg in a skiing accident and is house bound and miserable; he will talk to anybody for hours about how he has been badly treated by the NHS, his wife and family ; and God
  2. Rose is deeply distressed because she thinks that she is in a state of depression but she is frightened of doctors and finding out the truth.
  3. Mary specialises in saying unkind things about the Rector, parishioners and her neighbours

2.6       Response

2.7       Resources:

  1. Carey, Kevin: Listening: Lessons from Scripture
  2. Moulds, Tim:  Listening