Finding Peace in the Pandemic

finding peace in leading in chaos

From time to time we ask a fellow pastor in the Oasis pastor support network to share a word of encouragement. Today’s post comes from Shayne Robinson, pastor of Redeemer Church Waterloo.

If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.”

John Bunyan

I assume that we have found similar experiences pastoring through this Covid-19 season.

My heart has fluctuated from hope and anticipation for the future, to crushing uncertainty with discouraging rapidity. A heavy mix of emotions and weight stand on the shoulders of every decision. The lack or conflicting nature of information mix with my personality, struggles, and a healthy dose of input from every direction, and leave me feeling like I’ve just been choked out in an MMA bout… laying on the mat with my head spinning, gasping for oxygen, and looking for my opponent so I can rejoin the battle.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one looking for a little peace in this pandemic ministry.

Finding peace in pandemic ministry

We have this tendency to buy into a concept that peace is the absence of war. We tend to think that if the war would just end there would be peace.

That’s simply untrue and we know it. We know there is something working far more insidiously against our peace than simply the outward circumstances of life, even if those circumstances include a pandemic.

No, the heart of the struggle is not the war but something which manifests itself emotionally as worry and anxiety, and physically as fight or flight. The heart of our struggle is fear and unbelief.

Two passages help us gain a better view of the peace we’ve been extended in Christ. The first, Matthew 6:25-34, deals with those things which affect our peace in the immediate sphere of everyday life; such as food, shelter, and time.

The second, Matthew 10:16-28, deals with wolves, betrayal, answering before rulers, persecution, and even death. I encourage you to go and look at these texts. Note which things threaten your peace and consider the peace that is offered in Jesus’ words.

We find a profoundly helpful framework in these texts and it revolves around this question: How does the Spirit of God work peace when our heart wants to buckle?

Here are three brief observations from Jesus’ words:

  • Peace is found in the knowledge of God’s character and nature
  • Peace grows as we apply that knowledge to the promises we find in scripture
  • Peace strengthens as we remember His greater purposes and work in this world

How are you doing, fellow pastor?

  • Is your lack of peace because you’ve been so busy living off of old knowledge of God?
  • When was the last time you spent time in the Word experiencing wonder at God?
  • Are you drowning in anxiety and frustration because you’ve not considered the promises of God?
  • Have you neglected looking to God’s purposes in light of who He is and what He has promised?

God’s peace is available both to you and the sheep you shepherd, regardless of season or circumstance.

I won’t pretend to have some mystically clear answer for what God is doing in this season, but I know He is at work. I cannot counsel on how and what to do for the church and people God has entrusted to your care. Yet, I do know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit which God has promised to work in the heart and life of everyone He has redeemed. It is available both to you and the sheep you shepherd, regardless of the circumstance or season.

I’ll leave you with a quote and my great hope that you would look to Christ and find peace in the midst of the remarkably valuable work God has called you to in this season. Grace and peace to you in Christ.

The fountain of Christ’s peace is everlasting; it is what no time, no change can destroy. It will remain when the body dies; it will remain when the mountains depart and the hills shall be removed, and when the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of His comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”

Jonathan Edwards

Give The Gift of Rest This Christmas

Christmas gift for pastors

The Christmas season is exhausting (understatement, I know). But why is it exhausting? Maybe it has something to do with all the demands on my time and energy. Am I alone here?  

Here’s what I am struggling with:  

  • I feel a conviction to make this season somewhat “magical” for my kids. We are trying to take in as many “Christmasy” things we can in a short amount of time. This eats up time and effort in a hurry.  
  • I have a bunch of parties and events to attend, regardless if I have time for them or not.   
  • We have all sorts of Christmas stuff going on at church – advent, gift giving, Christmas Eve service, etc. 
  • People need to talk. Oddly enough the holidays are pretty tough on people and they need help processing their hurts.  

What does your calendar look like? Seriously, write down all that you have going on this month. You might be surprised with how busy you actually are.  

But my guess is you already know. In fact, if I were a bettin’ man (which I am not, because I’m a good Baptist) I’d venture to say you are as busy or busier than I am.  

So do we just accept that this is a “busy time of year” for ministry?  

It also feels slightly edifying, as though my busyness is akin to godliness.  

On some level that’s probably a reality. But my fear is that we as church leaders hide behind busyness. We probably even glorify it a little too. How many times do you slip in ‘how busy you are’ in your conversations this time of year? I know I am very guilty of doing that. It’s almost like it gives me an excuse to drop the ball on something. It also feels slightly edifying, as though my busyness is akin to godliness.  

The reality is that our calendars do get full. And while there is little we can do about that, there is something we can do about the false sense of insulation that busyness creates.  

Let’s be real here. We hide behind our calendars, and in doing so we hurt ourselves. Instead of admitting how tired or how stretched thin we are, we just say, “I’m so busy.” Instead of saying “no” to things, we overextend ourselves because, “it’s that time of year.”  

Here’s a challenge: Let’s try RESTING this Christmas season. (crazy right!?) 

Here are a few ways we can do that: 

Stop saying yes to everything! Your time has value and you need to spend it wisely. Your congregation and your family are watching you. You are setting the pace. Saying no to overextending yourself is both good and right.  

Create scheduling accountability. Have someone, whom you trust, help look over your calendar during “busy” seasons. Let them be an objective voice as to whether you are doing more than you should. 

Listen to your family. Better yet, ask your family. They are usually pretty good about being honest when it comes to how busy you are in ministry. 

Don’t ignore your own struggles. Be honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re wrestling with.  

Last but not least… 

Give your best to the Lord. Make sure He is getting the best of your calendar and your time. Everything and everyone else can wait.  

I pray you overcome your busyness and find the courage to REST this Christmas season.  

Pastor Mike