Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. Cut yourself some slack. You are a frontline worker. Yes, you are. Pastors are on the frontlines every week dealing with other people’s issues as well as those in your immediate family. You are responsible for a lot. And the unrealistic expectations that others place on you add to the overwhelm.
If you are like most frontline workers in health care or emergency services or peacekeeping, recently you have faced,
In 2023 what should be down is up.
Domestic violence is up.
Child abuse is up.
Overdose deaths are up.
Sales of alcohol are up.
Anxiety levels and panic attacks are up in adults, teens, and children.
Don’t put a discount on your role as a pastor. Pastoral ministry in your community is needed now. You are needed now.
Resilience is persistence through resistance. The man who turned the world upside down described overwhelm and resilience as, “Hard pressed on every side but not crushed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8)
So, what can a pastor do?
3 Unexpected Sources of Resilience
1. Keep not quitting. Sometimes it takes all your energy to just keep not quitting. Don’t underestimate the power of faithfulness or stubbornness.
Even if there are days when you feel like the only success was that you didn’t quit, you are still there – call that a victory of its own.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep showing up. Keep praying, keep standing, keep working.
You are working the muscles of perseverance and dogged hopefulness.
You are a sticker. You’re not someone who shows up when it’s easy and leaves when it’s time to dig in. You are committed to seeing mountains move. You are not undone by the spiritual forces of powers and principalities. You are choosing life.
You are declaring a defiant act of faith. In God’s economy not even our failures, our discouragement, or our disillusionment is wasted. Small acts of faith are still acts of faith.
2. Build up a church culture that breed’s high morale and motivation. That kind of culture requires leadership – wise, empathetic, discerning, thoughtful, strategic, and caring leadership. And it’s a leadership you can’t fake. It flows from the ethos of who you are as a person.
A lead pastor’s job description is “…to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...” (Ephesians 4:12) That means, being a lead pastor is not about being in charge but about taking care of the people in your charge. Great lead pastors are not responsible for the job. They are responsible for the people who are responsible for the job.
Lead pastors are not even responsible for the results of the jobs but are responsible for putting in place the resources, personnel, programs, influence, and prayer that should make it more likely that good works will be the outcome.
A leader’s most important question: How do I help my team be at their God-given best?
3. Practice empathy. Lead from a place of love. Be a human leader. Catch people doing something right. Celebrate them.
When responsible people are underperforming there are three things they need to hear:
“Are you OK?”
“I’m worried about you.”
“What’s going on?”
A vulnerable environment means anyone feels safe enough to put up their hand and say,
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“I need help.”
“I screwed up.”
The absence of that kind of culture creates people who lie, hide and fake.
The presence of that kind of culture creates people who are trusting, vulnerable, and empowered.
Ask your staff and volunteer leaders how you as their leader are doing with the above practises. Assure them that gracious honesty will not be held against them.
Be brave. Know that in your soul you may have to reconnect with confidence but it’s there. It never left.
Resilience is keeping moving on, not quitting, persistence through resistance.
Resilience is building a healthy, vulnerable, safe culture.
Resilience is practising empathy.
Lead on from a place of love.