Dear Pastor (myself included),
Breathe. Breathe deeply.
You’ve just completed a marathon (which you thought would only be a 5K when you laced up your shoes). This past year has been exhausting with unexpected challenges.
Once the adrenaline wears off and churches start to reopen, many pastors like you will be ready to crash. Some will drop out entirely. You’ve made it this far, so don’t give up.
A few words of advice:
Be patient. Your church needs time to get back to “normal.” Many won’t like the post-pandemic changes. Some are hesitant to return, and many might never come back. Others have developed stubborn sins that have grown into habits. Shepherd all of them faithfully like Jesus shepherds you.
Watch your health. Check your sleep, diet, exercise, and hydration. Do what you must to replenish your strength. Be humble. Many pastors have pushed themselves beyond the breaking point this year. Your workload has increased and won’t taper off even after the pandemic. So take time to rest. Recuperate. Your church and your family need you.
Feed your soul. Scripture, prayer, silence, solitude. Spend time with God. Confess the ways you’ve sinned in word or deed. Be humble. Ask for help before you need it. Soul care begins with you.
Resist the temptation to compare your church with others. Such thinking only leads to pride or jealousy. We’ve all handled this pandemic differently. So give grace to those you think are wrong and thank God for those you think have flourished. Be humble. It doesn’t matter if your congregation has shrunk or your livestream audience has grown. Care for the people Christ has given to you and let him build his church.
Trust and train your small group leaders. After this past year, your people crave connection in micro-gatherings. Encourage them to open their homes, grow in hospitality, and connect one person at a time.
But also remember to say, “No.” Your role is not to carry the entire church on your shoulders, but to equip members to carry one another.
Revitalize. Ask what new things God is doing: ministries, people, additions, and subtractions. Take this opportunity to start afresh. Challenge your people to think outwardly and give themselves away. Adopt or plant a church. Offer counseling to your community. Refocus your vision, but make changes slowly and with prayer.
Help other pastors. They are feeling the same weight as you having just run the same marathon. Serve. Pray. Fellowship. Care. We’re in this together.
Pastor, I’m praying for you to lead well and to keep running the race.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Tom left engineering for the pastorate and has ministered in the San Fernando Valley since 2004. He is a graduate of the Master’s Seminary and has received a doctorate in counseling at Southern Seminary. His passion is to equip the local church for ministry and train indigenous pastors globally. Hobbies include Foosball, mystery novels, poetry, and Bay Area sports. His wife Amanda is an aerospace engineer as well as an excellent cook. When not playing with their four kids (Trevor, Jordan, Peyton, and Madelyn) they enjoy board games, nature hikes, and good sushi.
8/19/2021 5:55:02 PM