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Reestablishing Order: Pastoring During COVID-19

Schedule is my friend.

Schedule helps me know when to work and when to be home. Schedule drives me to rest when I should. Schedule tells me when to get up in the morning. Schedule helps me pray. Schedule helps me read my Bible. Schedule helps me know when to say no.

And COVID-19 stabbed my schedule 100 times, doused it in kerosene and lit it on fire. As a result, I feel like my life that was like a nicely molded gelatin creation had its mold removed too soon and turned into a blob.


Increased Work Means Increased Worry

Maybe what I am saying is totally off from how you function, but for me this is how I feel. All of my work is still happening — in fact there is more of it now with the COVID-19 restriction due to more pastoral check ins, prayers, and individual support that can’t be pushed to, “Well, I’ll just see them on Sunday,” as an option.

This has led me to feeling overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of work to be done. I’m surrounded by a great team of staff and elders who are all pulling their weight, but still the jelly blob of my life feels totally stretched too thin. This in turn has led to feelings of anxiety for not getting enough done, depression because I was failing to do what I “should” be doing, and fear because of what people would think of the poor job I was doing pastoring them.

Man! What a mess.

I haven’t been able to just bounce back either. At the time of this writing, I’m just slowly beginning to recalibrate everything around the Gospel.


Get into the Groove of the Gospel

When I was a kid my brother and I were given a Scalextric race track for racing little model cars. The track had a groove the cars sat in. If you went too fast around the corner, the car would jump the groove and flip off the track. Being settled in the Good News of Jesus Christ and what it means for me as a man and as a pastor is like that groove. When craziness (read COVID-19) comes in, it can skip us out of that groove.

The goal should not be to avoid the craziness. For example, there’s no way you can avoid COVID-19 and the outcomes of the restrictions around it, but you can dig that groove deeper into the Good News of Jesus and press into what the love of God means for you. This isn’t meant to be trite or foolish comfort, but for situational anxiety, depression, and fear, trusting the Lord is often the best course of action.

When situational anxiety, depression, and fear creep into my life, I am challenged to first go back to the Gospel to examine my life and am forced (in the best possible way) to believe the Good News is good for me too.

  • Because Jesus lives, the work is done, he is building his church (Matt 16:18) and I don’t have to be anxious (Luke 12:22).
  • Because Jesus lives, even in my failures, he loves me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Because Jesus lives, he calls me beloved and I am free from being controlled by the smiles and frowns of the church (Hebrews 13:6).

Once I have the truth of the Gospel as the groove of my life, the gelatin takes shape again and life begins to make sense no matter what craziness rages around me. So friends, trust ever deeper in Jesus and his love for you, it might not lead your life back to the form it once held but it will sure you up in all the ways you need.

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