Pastoral care has never been one of my strengths.
On many occasions, my wife has told me "People think you are caring, but you are about an inch deep with empathy." I always knew that she was telling the truth, but justified myself by thinking of the times that I had demonstrated empathy, even if it wasn't felt. After all, I made phone calls and paid hospital visits to those who were sick (though admittedly, I wasn't excited about it). I sent cards and flowers to those who were hurting (eventually). I even emailed or texted people that I didn't want to talk to when it was absolutely essential. I fulfilled my pastoral duties, all the while telling myself that the days of "old school" pastoral visitation were over.
I thought I was doing a good job. I even encouraged my congregation to care for each other. "Stop thinking only about yourself and reach out to your brother or sister in their time of need," was a common message. "Surely this is what Christ wants from his church."
But to be honest, ...1