In my desire to care for pastors, I’ve observed a few things about pastors during this pandemic. In fact, I can predict some things about you right now, pastor. Or at least most of you.
Five things I know about (almost) every pastor right now:
Pastors are overloaded with information. There are more articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, surveys and forwarded emails and Facebook posts than ever. It is simply impossible to keep up with all of them. Most pastors are on information overload.
(Frankly, I reduced the number of my blog posts because I don’t always know what to say. I’m sharing from my experience when I have something to share. We are “building this plane as we fly it“. )
Pastors are hearing differing opinions. They range from we should have never closed our buildings to we should keep our buildings closed until Jesus returns. We must require people to wear masks and masks are going to make us sicker. We shouldn’t sing and we have to sing or it isn’t “church”. Lots of varying opinions and everyone is an expert or read just the right article from one.
Pastors are stretched beyond capacity. One consistent thing I hear from pastors is that they are tired. They are producing far more content than they usually do. The needs of the people we love haven’t decreased. They’ve increased. The burden we feel to care for people is greater now than ever in my ministry.
Pastors are trying to make good decisions. I can’t imagine any pastor intentionally making bad decisions or ones that hurt the church. We’ve never done most of what we are doing these days. Everything is opinion-based. Pastors are “experimenting”. At times, it will be proven a good decision and other times not.
Pastors are in a unique setting. Each church is different. Every pastor is uniquely wired by God. Churches have different buildings, different people, and different local governing suggestions/requirements. Therefore, it will be difficult for any church to adopt one cookie-cutter approach.
How much did I get right about you, pastor?
Listen, I’m here with you. Currently serving in a lead pastor (intentional interim) position, I am overloaded with information, hearing lots of differing opinions, stretched, trying to make wise decisions, and in a very unique setting. We are in this together – even if we are facing different individual issues.
I do have a few suggestions. (And they are simply opinions too.)
Surround yourself with wise people. Now is not the time to isolate yourself. You may need voices outside your church, but hopefully there are some wise people in your church as well. It might be that you need to glean from people who are not necessarily in a leadership position in your church.
Stay local in your sources as much as possible. While I love hearing from those who are trying to help us with national ministries – and I am listening to them some, our best answers are likely going to come from people closest to our setting. Other pastors in our area and local and state leaders will better understand our unique contexts.
Don’t be afraid to lead. You will make mistakes, but you might discover the next great you or the next great thing for your church. People are going to have opinions – like they always have. Be open to input from others, seek wise counsel, pray continually, but lead the best you can. Churches need real leadership these days.
Take care of yourself. You must protect yourself. Put your own mask on (and I’m talking metaphorically not literally) before attempting to help others. Exercise. Rest in between the sprints. Care for your family. (You may want/need to wear a physical mask. I’ll leave that decision to you.)
One thing I’m sure about. We need pastors at their best during times of crisis. And before and after they occur.
(If it helps, I did write 5 Voices Pastors Need to be Listening to Now.)