The COVID Journey Continues: Are You Taking Care of You?
By Dr. Ethel Canty Bothuel In my October 2020 blog entitled, Three Ways to Bounce Back into Action: A COVID Journey, I cited the realities we were facing during the Pandemic. Guess what? We are still in the process of adjusting and readjusting—some virtual, some in-person, and some hybrid—the methods of engagement within our congregations.
Although we are more relaxed about the Pandemic, it has left a long-lasting effect on the lives of many church leaders and members.
The Barna Group’s research, A Year Out: How COVID Has Impacted Practicing Christians, tells us that in the one year that we have been living through this unprecedented virus, churches have had to pivot to a new reality and many in the congregations are not happy with the change. I know that this gives church leaders some added concerns. But we know that’s not all there is to worry about.
COVID has significantly impacted our social life, our livelihood, and the ability, especially of our seasoned members, to keep in touch via technology. This impact on older members is significant and I know of leaders who are grappling with the digital divide. Virtual platforms have become the new way to worship (don’t you wish you had bought stock in some of them?). These virtual and social media platforms have blessed us to be able to at least have some semblance of worshiping together even though they present other challenges including revenue stream. The finances of some churches have declined a bit while others remained steady or have increased. Congregations that have continued to worship together had to create innovative ways to assure compliance with the government mandates of social distancing, masking, sanitizing and more at great sacrifice and cost.
This is a lot to deal with! You are constantly busy creating, innovating, and executing different content for worship, teaching, and activities, and it takes a toll on you and the team. You know already that nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. But have you ever asked yourself that question? I mean out loud! Well, probably not (even though you should) if you are new to ministry. But if you have been in ministry for a while, you know that it is easy to keep working and not take a break for lunch or dinner. In fact, a friend of mine said of her pastor-husband, “He loves the congregation more than he loves me because he will stop whatever he is doing to make sure he is at the church working. He is going to work himself to death!”
It is a reality that many pastors and leaders of ministry programs feel a bit guilty when they take time off just to refresh and renew, but is this a healthy route to take? Asking yourself this question will, at least, help you to stop and ponder the answer. “What is the number one thing that will happen to me when I do not take care of myself?” I could give you an answer, but I will not. Why? Because you must answer the first question: “Am I taking care of myself?” I hope your answer is either YES! or I’M DOING IT RIGHT NOW!
I am pressing this point because, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup! Taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others. Don’t take my word for it! The Bible exhorts leaders to “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock…” Even when we do not have enough sense to stop, in Psalm 23:2, God “makes us to lie down in green pastures.” Don’t wait until God makes you stop. We tend to see ourselves differently from the way others see us, so if family member or team member say that you need a break, take it! If this blog encourages you in any way, thank God!
When you care enough to take care of you and be a healthy person, God‘s people will have the leader that God appointed. That‘s the whole point! Correct?
Are you taking care of you? I hope so.