By Mark Dance
Are you experiencing coronavirus-fatigue right now? Maybe you can use some practical encouragement.
It doesn’t take long to get caught up in the ministry whirlwind as we play whack-a-mole with challenges we’ve never faced before.
Here are four of the most common mistakes I’ve observed that you can avoid in the coming weeks.
1. Making long term plans
Our calling as caregivers gives us a bias toward action, or at least it should. Sometimes, however, the wisest action is to wait for more information before you form a plan.
The annoying fluidity of this pandemic deems it impossible to know what’s coming next, much less when. Making reactionary decisions based on limited information is panicking, not pastoring.
Buckle up for at least a couple of months of this mess.
2. Ignoring the various authorities
Listen to the elected officials, whether you’re required to or not. This week, the federal government recommended we meet in groups no larger than 10, which is based on input from world-class professionals.
Most of us didn’t go to medical school, so there’s no pressure for us to become pandemic experts. Listen to the advice of those that did.
Dr. Hance Dilbeck, Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma, is encouraging Oklahoma pastors to ask “should we?” instead of “must we?”
Instead of corralling them into smaller worship services or home groups, creatively connect them online and through other means as best you can until this pandemic passes.
3. Using your resources randomly
When frantic church members blow up our phones and inboxes with ideas on how you should serve your community, it’s tempting to overcommit by saying “yes” too often.
As a missionary to your community, you likely already know what particular needs your church is equipped to meet. If you’re not sure, focus on your neediest neighbors right now, which are your oldest ones.
Likewise, if there’s a high percentage of children around you who would normally get their meals at school, work with your school district to identify and help those children.
Many networks, conventions, and associations are curating resources on their websites for pastors and churches to use.
Some of the tools we are desperate to use today will be strategically helpful on the other side of this pandemic, like online giving and worship for the homebound.
4. Ignoring your family or personal well being
People will be pulling you in all directions for a couple of months, so please remember that self-care isn’t selfish—it’s strategic.
You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you assist others. The best way to do that is to simply stop, which is what “sabbath” literally means.
I want to encourage you to take 3-4 mini-sabbaths a day to rest in the presence of God.
Author Peter Scazzaro refers to this ancient discipline as “The Sacred Office.” Right now, take a moment to pause and pray through this passage:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 CSB).
MARK DANCE (@markdance) speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats—often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net. He’s currently serving as director of pastoral development for the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.