It strikes me that there are two things that I need when it comes to pastoral care.
The first one is that I need comforting in the trouble of life. I need to be reassured of the gospel. I need to have my broken heart bound up. I guess this is what we normally think of when we think of pastoring.
But I also need to be led. I need to pushed on and led on to greener pastures. I need to be made to go deeper in my understanding of Scripture and my love of Christ. I need to be challenged to grow.
Let's call the former reactive pastoring and the latter directive pastoring.
Would it be fair to say that some churches are very good at reactive pastoring but not so good at directive? They look after the weak, but never encourage them to become stronger. They take care of people, but never prod them into doing things they don't want to do. The result is self-indulgent Christians.
On the other hand, might it be legitimate to point out that some churches are good at being directive but very bad at reactive care? They know where people should be, and will do anything to get them there. They helpfully push the strong, but sometimes don't notice when the weak fall by the wayside. The result is often dishonesty, as people don't feel free to admit their failings and weaknesses.
Not so Jesus. He knows when we need leading on to greener pastures, and he knows when we need carrying through the valley of the shadow of death. Isn't it great that Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, knows just how to look after us?