Thriving While Others are Surviving is a Matter of the Mind
Recently, a pastor and good friend asked me to define a “shepherd.” Our discussion was focused around the responsibilities of a pastor in the context of leading at the local church level. His first question was, “How would you define being a pastor?” The triteness of my answer didn’t occur to me even when I was answering his question. Obviously, I said, “A pastor is a shepherd!” I’ve been wresting with this question and my answers for several months now. Here’s how I believe a shepherd should help his flock find their way through these troubled days.
In the wake of the World Health Organization‘s announcement that SARS-CoV (COVID-19) had become a pandemic, I’ve really begun thinking about these questions and what exactly is the responsibility of the local church and pastors. I also frequently consider this question now concerning matters like the Border Crisis (immigration & displaced children), our national homeless person epidemic and modern racism to name a few. But, at the moment, there are many who are lost, afraid and in need of a shepherd. Here’s a few practical thoughts.
A Winning Mindset
For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (self discipline in some translations). 2 Timothy 1: 7The Bible, New King James Version
The big question that continues to surface sounds generally something like this: “Is this biological warfare perpetrated by China – or was it an accident?” From a survival mind, it really doesn’t matter. There are things the government isn’t going to tell the general public. They can’t, so don’t expect it. In general, you can trust that the government in the United States is going to do what it can to make it’s citizens safe and to help restore health, welfare and continuity.
Why not be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem? Stay positive. Help others and help them to remain positive. Did you know that many who have been shot or wounded in combat die, not because of the wounds sustained, but because they become despondent and lose the will to live? You will gain more in the way of surviving an incident or catastrophic event by maintaining a positive attitude and finding ways to work together, than you will by focusing on yourself and “hunkering down.” Keep your chin up and help others to do the same!
Supplies & Realistic Planning
There is no time in the life of a citizen in the United States that you should not be adequately prepared for disaster or hardship. It’s just common sense. You might consider following ready.gov, a government site dedicated to helping Americans and others to become and maintain a healthy mindset of preparedness.
A couple of suggestions: Toilet paper, paper products, water and canned food have literally flown off the shelves. So what can you do? Little by little you can find supplies and locate sources of supplies around where you live and work. Barter with each other and other families. One family or person may have an abundance of one item and another may have something else you need… Work together! Your mind is your strongest weapon and also your strongest provider.
Share – Don’t Horde
If you have two more rolls of toilet paper or paper towels, do you really think it is going to make a difference in the long run? It won’t. We are really stronger together. There may be a time when you will need help, and after all, we know that in most cases, we reap what we sow. In crisis, strength comes though community, not isolation. In a bio-threat scenario, it just requires being a little more vigilant when it comes to hygiene and remaining committed to self discipline. It might take a while for this crisis to clear – but eventually, it will clear. Embrace it, don’t fight it. This is how you overcome fear. You can become part of the solution if you maintain a positive attitude and a winning mind.
Churches: Your church may have small groups, but are you engaging them in the best way? Probably not. I am seeing a LOT of churches “pushing” on-line church. This is preachable, but I’ll save you the time and myself some frustration. Leaders, instead of scrambling trying to secure jobs by creating “on-line church,” focus on the lives and well-being of your people. Small groups should not be just for spiritual growth. You will find in the New Testament that the early church supported one another in many ways, to include provision and shelter.
The Good Shepherd
Do you remember the parable about the shepherd that left the 99 sheep in his flock to go find the one that was lost? Think about this. We are stronger together. Pastors, make an effort to gather the flock. Social media is a good way to do this, but to rely on it is a cop-out. Small groups are the best way to help the flock to stay together. Gathering the flock in wolf-infested territory is risky at best. It’s time for church and ministry leaders to think out of the box and to lead from the front.
Preaching on-line and creating on-line church is a band-aid type solution that will result in people drifting away… You won’t keep their interest. We know this to be true from statistics and history. This crisis is the time to change the way we think about church.
I’m considering discussing this more in detail in the next blog. The modern church, especially in the U.S. has so catered to entertainment, that we no longer realize the value of living faith every day and with a real spirit of community. I’m thinking that maybe it might be of interest to provide a few blogs each week to provide some guidance and counsel on how we survive crisis and how we build a sustainable church foundation. The current crisis reveals much about a church that is unprepared physically for disasters, but also a church that is anemic and weak in her ability to sustain a cohesive body.
Let me know what you think and I will begin to write along those lines. I have been very blessed to have lived a good and strong life and have seen much of this world from the under-belly side. In times like these, that can bring comfort in knowing that we can not only survive – but can thrive in these times.
A Solution for Church Small Group Growth and Success
Unashamedly, I point you toward our website. The company that I have been so blessed to be a part of for the last several years has produced a technology that can help many to stay in business, remain connected and to survive in times of trouble. Check out the links to ISM United, a solution that is specifically built for small groups and remote work – like missions, humanitarian and global engagement.
Let me know what you think and how I can help with more information, insights or resources for you!