One of my deacon’s called me yesterday to let me know his wife woke up this morning with a fever. She went to the doctor, got tested and was positive for Covid-19. Several members had been around her and we went about the task of letting people know so that they could quarantine and/or get tested.
I began to question whether we should hold services in our worship center for the upcoming Sunday. We had canceled services on the inside the week before because of another member who got sick and exposed several including myself. My experience is pretty common in the world of pastoral leadership.
What’s it like to be a pastor in the midst of a pandemic storm? It is leadership in the midst of uncertainty, confusion, frustration, anger, discouragement, sorrow, loss, instability and I could go on and on. I have been a pastor for 39 years, and I have never seen anything like this in my life. Throw in an election that was anything but smooth along with racial issues and riots and there you have 2020.
The experience of leading in this storm of 2020 has reminded me of these powerful truths from God’s word:
Prepare to suffer
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. I Peter 4:1
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12-13
It is not a matter of if, but when the storms come our way and with it the suffering we go through in leading God’s people.
Lead by your example
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. I Peter 5:1-4.
We are called to be examples to our congregation. We go to seminary to learn how to preach and teach God’s word. We are to be prepared to be an example for everything we proclaim from God’s word. It is not only about what we say and how well we say it in the pulpit. It is our example that stands out in the end.