One thing all crises have in common is that they trigger self-reflection and examination. Crisis exposes us to what we can’t control and manage on our own. Extreme trouble strips us of pretense. It shatters the illusion of self-sufficiency. It takes our egos down to the studs – to the bare-boned essentials revealing basic realities of our lives; baring our true selves and what’s really important. Above all, it exposes us to God and to prayer so we can involve ourselves in his control.
The COVID-19 crisis is forcing us pastoral leaders to take stock of ourselves and our ministries. Today I came across an article written by Rick Toh, pastor of Yo Chu Kang Chapel in Singapore:
“A leader’s action is a theological statement… The first responsibility of the leader (in times of crisis) is to remain calm and remind people that God is in control of every situation and there is never a reason to panic… leaders should be aware that their congregations are watching them intently…”
The apostle Peter reminds the pastors under his care:
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. (1Peter 5:2-3)
In times like this, the eyes of your congregations are on you. There looking for help and guidance. They need to find courage and inspiration. This is no time to let fear cause you to become self-centered. This is poisonous with respect to servant-leadership. The effective shepherd “serves to lead”. Christ, himself being the epitome of this. Unless you can take your eyes off yourselves, avoiding engaging in anxious self-absorption, you won’t be able to pastor your congregation through any difficult or dangerous crisis.
So, Pastor Toh, shares this wise counsel:
We (pastoral leaders) need to process our fears before God and let our actions be inspired and guided by (faith and) sound theology…”
I believe by honestly taking stock of ourselves – our anxiety, fears, doubts, and limitations – we’ll make more room for God’s Spirit and bolster our confidence in his overwhelming power, even when everything seems to be going wrong.
Serve well. Lead well. Love well. Keep well…