Pastors and church leaders, this reflection is for you to do individually or as a group of leaders. At various points throughout this reflection, you’re invited to pause to consider how you are feeling and to be still before God, sitting in silence. Some questions require you to sit with them for longer times; they are intended to spark your reflection and prayer.
There is no need to complete this in one sitting, nor is there a specific timeline. You may want to complete it alone first, and then meet together to share your answers over a couple of meetings. How you apply it within your congregation is dependent on your discernment.
We need to become more self-aware of how the changes in our culture are impacting us and to prayerfully consider how God is calling us to respond to this crisis.
Through CBOQ’s conversations with pastors, we have heard the pressure: to be [as] productive as we were before, to compare with other churches, to be the do-it-all pastor and meet all pastoral care needs, to be tech experts overnight or to fill in the blank.
Our Encouragement to You
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
The greatest commandment has three parts. The first is God is calling us to love him above all else; the second is to love our neighbours. But we often miss the third part hidden within—we must remember to love ourselves.
Jesus tells us that loving yourself is just as important as loving your neighbours. Loving yourself practically means giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, to pay attention to your soul—your relationship with God, to rest physically, to enjoy your family and friends and to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. At this time, lean into what God is calling you to do and embrace your limits.
By taking care of yourself, you will be better
able to take care of others. We encourage you to
make this your priority.
Pour your heart to God in prayer. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Begin with 3-5 minutes of silence.
- What changes have you experienced individually?
- How are you feeling about these changes?
- What changes has your community experienced?
- How are you feeling about these changes in your community?
- How would you counsel someone else who was going through these changes individually and communally? What would you tell them? (Grace, truth, patience, challenge, rebuke, anger, sadness, compassion, empathy?)
- What do you need to give yourself permission to feel? (Fear, anxiety, stress, happiness, sadness, insecurity, etc.)
- What have you struggled to accept about this new reality?
- What has God been doing in your life?
- What has God been doing in your community?
What are the current needs before you?
- Your own (Emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health)
- Your immediate community (Family and friends)
- Your work
- Pastoral care (list people/situations—health, financial, loneliness)
- Worship/Technology (Online services, etc.)
How is God calling you to respond? What is God calling you to leave alone, accept, or tolerate?
Consider what Jesus said about the problem of the Pharisees, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
- How is God calling you to meet some of these needs?
- Through the Body of Christ (People in your congregation)
- Through other leaders (Whom do you need to equip? Invite to help?)
- Through your own effort
What are the unique gifts of this season?
- For your soul (Relationship with God)
- For your physical rest
- For your immediate community (Family and friends)
- For your church community
How does this season speak into how God is leading into the future?
End with 3-5 minutes of silence.
Recommended Books and Articles:
- Ruth Haley Barton. Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership. 2nd Downers Grove: IVPress, 2018.
- Kirk Byron Jones. Rest in the Storm: Self-Care Strategies for Caregivers. King of Prussia: Judson Press, 2001.
- Barton, Ruth Haley. “That the Works of God Might be Revealed.” Transforming Centre. https://transformingcenter.org/2020/03/that-the-works-of-god-might-be-revealed/ (April 30, 2020)
- Crouch, Andy, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard. “Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup.” The Praxis Journal. https://journal.praxislabs.org/leading-beyond-the-blizzard-why-every-organization-is-now-a-startup-b7f32fb278ff (April 30, 2020)