"Failure" : a pastoral study / O. Schoeman
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This study deals with the role that 'failure' plays in the lives of people, as seen from a pastoral-theological perspective. In this respect, a number of questions presented themselves, including; How the phenomenon known as 'failure' is viewed within the community of the secular sciences? How is the phenomenon known as 'failure' viewed from a Biblical point of view? Can 'failure' be reversed and turned into something beneficial? In the secular world, a 'failure' is seen as someone who does not live up to expectations, or to a person who continually make mistakes and who does not learn from the experience. There is scant room in the secular world for 'failure', and there is an enormous amount of pressure on individuals in society to be 'successful.' This peer pressure to conform to certain expectations carries with it a corresponding fear of 'failure', and therefore being rejected by society. Scripture would appear to view 'failure' in a more lenient light, but at the same time, carries a wider connotation to 'failure' than society does. The purpose of this study is to investigate what is meant by 'failure', both from a basis-theoretical and a meta-theoretical perspective, in accordance with Zerfass's model, in order to develop a counselling model, designed to assist counsellors in the counselling of people who suffer from the effects of 'failure'. The basis-theoretical part of this study found that Scripture does not recognise the phenomenon we call 'failure', apart from man missing God's mark, and sinning. The greatest, or worst form of 'failure' encountered in Scripture is indicative of the sinner not accepting the redemptive work of Christ, and being condemned to perish in eternal damnation. What is colloquially known as 'failure', Scripture treats as stepping stones to success and sanctification. The meta-theoretical part of this investigation brought up an interesting thought: that 'failure' was learned behaviour, a negative set of values that society impresses upon individuals to they must conform to. Where 'failure' is experienced, society teaches the person to cope with 'failure' by utilizing inherent strengths and negating weaknesses, rather than exploring the 'failure' in an endeavour to mine the salient values that are present. From an empirical research, using hermeneutic-phenomenological principles, a model was developed that is intended to assist the counsellor in reversing counselee 'failure' into success. The conclusion of this research is that while broader society may not have an answer to 'failure', pastoral-theology is perfectly positioned to assist with the counselling of people who deem themselves to be 'failures’.
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