If you’re a pastor, your church may not be gathering together physically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re a traveling evangelist or minister, all your scheduled engagements may have suddenly cancelled. Your own income may be uncertain. As our world changes in unexpected and perhaps permanent ways, it’s challenging for even the most godly leader to maintain the heart position that your success or identity is not dependent on how many people you see in front of you each week.
Your head may know that God can be trusted with your future and the future of the church. But how do you translate that to your heart?
You are a human being, impacted by the circumstances in the world around you, and stress impacts your body, soul, and spirit. Here are three keys to remaining resilient as a person and as a minister during this season.
1. Learn to Feed Yourself
When everything around you may seem to be falling apart, it’s more important than ever that you bring your best self to leading yourself, your family, your church, your organization. The only way you can do that is to intentionally feed yourself first.
We need physical food daily. God makes grain grow in the field, but He doesn’t harvest it, grind it, bake the bread, and hand you a sandwich. He makes fish grow in the sea, but He doesn’t catch it, bake it, and put it on your dinner plate. You and I are responsible for knowing when we’re hungry, for choosing appropriate food, and taking it into our being.
That’s at least as important in the domain of mental/emotional/spiritual nourishment.
What fills you up? What nourishes your inner being? Make sure to do that – daily, and weekly. Spend time with God not to prepare a message, but to take in nourishment for your famished soul. Take time to enjoy the beauty of life, such as that found in nature. Reach out and connect with people who lift you up. Care for your body with appropriate rest and food.
Your resilience will depend on how well you learn to feed yourself.
2. Remember Your Why
At some point, your soul felt the mandate to serve God through serving His people. Remember that God knows the burden on your heart, because He placed it there!
You may have interpreted that burden in a particular way – to lead or serve in the church where you have found yourself, or in some similar way. But what does that mean during this COVID-19 pandemic?
Let me encourage you to look deeper for your Why. Even if the methods or structure of how you minister to God’s people appear different, your calling has not changed. Remember that the gospel has not changed, even if the details of how the church functions may look different.
It’s healthy to wrestle with God about such questions as, What is the unique message You have given me to share with Your people? What does the gospel have to say to these people right here, right now? Why have You placed me in this section of Your kingdom in this season?
Your Why may be deeper and bigger than you at first realize. God may just have called you to His kingdom for such a time as this. He knows you have what it takes. He has not left you alone, but He trusts you enough to have you where you are right now.
The people God has placed within your sphere of influence still need you to lead them. Whether that’s three, thirty, three hundred, three thousand, or more, you can go first and demonstrate in front of them what it means to follow Jesus during these challenging times. And truthfully, that’s nothing more than God has ever required of His leaders.
You don’t have to have it all together. None of God’s leaders do. If you had it all together, you would be abnormal. Your people will find comfort in seeing you challenged by the new normal just as they are.
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it’s taking a step forward even in the face of fear. God had to tell His people in Scripture to “Fear Not!” so many times because fear is a normal human response to uncertainty and risk. Acknowledge any fear you may feel, and then do the next right thing, accepting God’s gift of supernatural peace.
And remember that the gospel first spread to the then-known world without the internet, mass media, denominations, seminaries, or church buildings. “In front of them” and “seeing you” will look different today than in centuries past. But like Peter and Paul, you can iterate and innovate to minister using the tools available today.
Just keep following Jesus in front of those God has given you to influence. That’s really what godly leadership looks like anyway.
May God bless you and your ministry in unexpected ways for the benefit of His kingdom.
God’s word has a lot to say about Fear Not. As circumstances around you promote fear and anxiety, keeping what God says front and center in your mind will help you live in and minister out of God’s peace.
Our 40-day email devotional series Freedom from Fear and Anxiety will do just that. Let this be part of the daily nourishment your soul takes in.
Begin your 40-day email devotional series now.
And feel free to share this link with anyone who might benefit.
Dr. Carol Tanksley.
She’s a board-certified physician as well as a doctorate of ministry. She’s published several books by Charisma House, has been highlighted several times in Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman. Dr. Carol blogs frequently at drcarolministries.com.