Pastors Can Reset in a Pandemic

by | Leadership, Team Development

By Natolie Warren

Historically, pastors have been commonly known to lead during a crisis. However, this pandemic, an unprecedented crisis, has created increased challenges for many leaders. With an unusual level of stress and uncertainty, it has taken a toll on so many pastors. If you have found yourself in this place, you are not alone. 

As pastors, you are masterful at being present while withholding aspects of yourself or withholding your own needs in service to others. For many leaders, this may have been challenging as it has been become harder to be present. 

Why? You may be wondering. It has been difficult to pastor during this season. 
  • There is a burden to support others. 
  • There is the responsibility to lead.  
  • There is the expectation to guide others. 
  • There is the overwhelming need to put aside your own things to focus on what you were called to do.
  • There is the pressure to know what to do even though you have never done this before. 

As a helping professional, this has also been a struggle for me. One of the reasons this has become more difficult is there is a smaller level of professional distance. As you are holding space for others, you are often not going through the same thing at the same time. This could contribute to feelings of overwhelmingness and stress. 

In an article that I recently read, I thought specifically of you as a leader. This article explained how this current crisis may be impacting you and provides the keys to move through this storm. 

Here is an excerpt from the article. 

“Your brain makes maps on how to do life,” explains Dr. Henry Cloud, acclaimed leadership expert, clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author. “Our relationships have maps, that’s how God wired us … but in a crisis like this, your entire life is registering on your brain, and your people’s brains, as being in an error.”

“What you need to do in a time of crisis is reset your system,” continues Dr. Cloud, “and God has given us ways to do this. There are four main areas that need to be reset: your sense of connectedness, structure and routines, sense of control and, lastly, mental space. We also need to be increasing our regular spiritual practices [during this time].”
Here are a few tips to reset your system and manage the stress and overwhelming nature of this pandemic. 
  1. Increase your self-care activities. Schedule at least fifteen minutes each day for just you. 
  2. Unplug. You are frequently analyzing, figuring things out, constantly on the go and focused on others. Schedule routine time weekly to unplug from your responsibilities, obligations and ministry. 
  3. Create new structures and routines. Assess your current routines and structures and evaluate areas that are working and areas that you want to change. 
  4. Accept that control is an illusion, you never had it. Surrender the need to control and focus on what you can control. 
  5. Be willing to accept that you may not know all the answers or have everything figured out. This does not mean that you are failing or not capable as a leader. You are doing your best. 
  6. Do mental health check-ins to assess your current level of stress and how you are managing it. 
  7. Allow yourself to be supported and cared for and get professional help if needed.  
  8. Pray for daily bread as Jesus instructed us. Instead of trying to figure out six months from now, ask God “What do you want to say to me today?” Ask, “Today, how can I love people?” and “Today, how can I help people?”
  9. Seek guidance from the scriptures more often than for the purpose of preparing your sermons. 
  10. Cultivate and commit to a spiritual practice apart from what can be pointed at as contributing toward a ministry task.

When you are able to implement these strategies, you can learn how to reset and be more effective in your role as a leader. 

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