Brothers and Sisters in Ministry:
A Mom left her two boys, ages 8 and 10 at home while she went to the corner store. When she returned a few minutes later, her two boys were standing with six of their friends in a circle in the living room totally captivated by what was in the center. As she quietly walked in and peeked over their shoulders, she was horrified at seeing a litter of baby skunks. In panic she screamed, “Run children, run!” And each of the boys picked up one of the skunks and ran.
Bruce Hartung talks about “Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS),” the effects of “left over” stress that builds up over time and remains even after the initial crisis has passed. The Coronavirus has been an unfriendly addition to our lives, lives that are already filled with the stress related work of doing ministry. Adding to that is the inability to use the tools we were comfortable with, further embedding in us a secondary stress that is real and can be damaging to further ministry. When the pandemic is brought under control, we will all breathe a sigh of relief, but don’t nonchalantly think it’s over. We will be facing new issues that at one time weren’t issues.
The world changed after WWI, “the war to end all wars.” It changed again when nuclear warheads were used, and again with the emergence of “free love,” and the “conflict” in Vietnam, and again with the introduction of Birth Control Pills and again with 9/11 and again with legalized abortion. They say it takes 2 ½ times longer to do the same ministry today as it did 20 years ago. And we kid ourselves that as Pastors we think we are “okay” and the little bundle of a “skunk” we’ve inherited is no “big deal.” It’s not selfish to take care of yourself and the needs of your family!
For the sake of your family, congregation, and future ministry, find ways to debrief, take some time off, ask your congregation to help, talk openly and honestly to brothers and sisters in ministry who are going through the same things. It’s time to “lay down our weapons” and let’s come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and whatever you do, don’t pick up the skunk and add it to your collection of things you don’t need. Let’s rely on the strength of being who we, members of the Body of Christ totally committed to Christ as Savior and Lord. We can kid ourselves and simply go back thinking that nothing has changed. But the world before COVID-19 and after are not the same!
The Good News is God’s Word is as relevant today as it was before the pandemic, “the Word of the Lord remains forever.” Jesus is yet the same “yesterday, today and forever,” and we are still charged with the same mission, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Because of COVID-19 God has taught us some new ways to reach out and churches have learned some new ways “of doing business.” The devil thought he could use today’s troubles to discourage God’s Church. But the only thing I see it has done, is to re-invigorate today’s church and make us even more committed to be the re-energized Body of Christ living under the real truth “Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen indeed!”