Over the past month, I’ve begun to see the pandemic have a more pronounced effect on the members of our congregation: more folks who have lost their jobs or suffered illness, and those are just those I’ve had the chance to speak with. Last week, as my children began their classes from various spaces within my house, I watched as their teachers struggled to work the problems while being responsible for a bunch of 8 year olds looking back at them on screens, wondering why it’s not working.
I sent my daughter’s teacher an email that evening to commiserate, to thank her for her efforts, and to offer my support in whatever way I could. So many of you have offered similar encouragement to me, and it’s that genuine care and encouragement that has sustained me through the most difficult ‘flops’ over the past month. It has been a struggle to try and keep up and there’s plenty of evidence to support that assertion (like the fact that I’m just now writing this column on September 2nd, for instance).
I shared an article last night on my personal Facebook with the rather provocative title “6 Reasons Your Pastor Is About to Quit.” Many of my colleagues resonated with the issues it raised. No one argued that it was fundamentally inaccurate. I did, too, except for one point: Number 5 – Criticisms against pastors have increased significantly.
Not that I’m asking for more complaints or blame, but I know I’m not perfect and am, in fact, making PLENTY of mistakes. I know I’m some distance away from where I’d like to be in my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I suspect that I’m not alone there. But I know that these aren’t technical issues that can be fixed by clicking the right link or inserting the right bit of magic code. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes for health issues. The good side of that is that often our ‘healths’ are more resilient than we give them credit. For most people (those who are not in recovery for addiction), one extra cookie does not mean imminent death. It can take quite a bit to throw our God-imaged bodies and minds into a turmoil from which they cannot recover.
But all of us have endured a LOT over the past six months, I’m starting to see the signs of wear more prominently among you, and, as your pastor, I’m concerned for all of your ‘healths’.
I love to fix things; so much so that I used to work in a repair shop. It feels great to be able to flip a switch and have something that was broken start working. Our nation’s situation as well as that of the Christian church in the USA is more akin to health than it is to a technical fix. We have to focus on maintaining what keeps our congregation physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy. It’s more than one or two quick programs, bestsellers, or good sermons (should that ever occur); it’s about loving each other enough that you can fail, fall, or forget something without fear that one mistake will destroy everything.
All of us are more resilient than we may believe and when we fail, as we will from time-to-time, others are often more gracious than we expect or perhaps even deserve. As you encounter all of the challenges that come your way this month, I pray that your technical issues are few and that you can find one way to work on your most pressing health issue. Together, we are strong and we have the assurance that our Savior is with us on the way.