People in ministry! I hear you!
You are exhausted – mentally, physically and emotionally.
In March you had to do mental gymnastics trying to figure out how you were going to continue to get the Word of God via worship to your people. Most of you figured out a way of going online – via Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, radio and podcasts. Most of you had a steep learning curve figuring out these new means of communication while others were thrust into the world of editing.
Physically you are exhausted. Your schedule is messed up – there are more moving parts to your work. You never imagined there was such a thing as Zoom fatigue and many of you have hardly had a day off in weeks and some of you have had vacations postponed or cancelled.
Emotionally, you are running on empty. You are worried about the health of members of your congregation and your own family. You are worried about the isolation of your members as well as members of your own extended family. You are worried about the finances of your church. You are exhausted from the evils of COMPARISONITIS. You have seen what other churches have done online and you have compared yourself with them. You have congregational members who have seen what others have done and, well meaning, have suggested, “Pastor, have you seen what Pastor Someone Else has done? Could we do that?”
Then there is the myriad of opinions as to when and how our churches should be opening. You hear everything from we must re-open and we must not reopen. You hear there is no real threat from COVID and you hear “my family member died of COVID”.
People do not understand the need for no singing, no hymnals, physical distancing, limiting people, cleaning between services, no fellowship coffee time. They see the rest of the world opening up and don’t understand the recommendations that other businesses aren’t following – masks, no masks, only curbside pickup, open inside seating. Our ministry leaders hear one thing from their judicatory leaders and another from their laity. And then there are the other churches in town who are already opening in one way or another. “Can’t we be like them?”
But however we open up, lay leaders are also saying, “but we still have to do the online worship for those who aren’t coming in person.” In a coaching session the other day, I likened it to the moving staircases in the Harry Potter books/movies. You start out climbing while the stairs are moving, your original destination changes and you are not sure where you will end up. While other people in your world are climbing other stairs and ending up in different places – oh and there is some motion sickness involved too.
I don’t have answers this time. I just really want to say that I see you, I really see you! Coaching has been so powerful during this time because we have been able to cheer on the herculean work that you have navigated and have also walked along side you to help you figure out a new game plan as to what it means to be a leader in ministry during a pandemic – figuring out a new schedule – letting go of some activities that are no longer relevant at this time and adding a whole myriad of new activities that were never on your radar…getting back that sense of control of your ministry – picking and choosing your battles well.
Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to focus on one activity at a time. When ideas pop into your head, write them down and go back to doing that which you were focusing on originally. You can process that new thought, that idea later. Be gentle with yourself. Things will go back to a new normal all in good time – but what that new normal will look like, none of us really knows. But God knows, and God is faithful and continues to do amazing things in and through this time of pandemic. God is good, all the time, all the time, God is good – and God has got this whole situation. Breathe deeply, my dear friend in ministry, breathe deeply because God has got this!
Remember to be gentle with yourself. Breathe deeply, my friend in ministry, breathe deeply because God has got this!