Category Archives: Pastors

Crisis Fatigue

In a recent article, author Jake Owensby uses the term “crisis fatigue” to describe the tumultuous climate we are living through today in the world.

He says, “Confronted by a relentless barrage of stress-inducing events, we respond with a draining mixture of exhaustion, rage, disgust, despair, anxiety and grief. We want things to change, but the problems seem so huge that we don’t know where to start. We begin to wonder if we could make a real difference anyway. We’re overwhelmed.” (Ministry Matters: “Do the right next thing”)

Owensby’s words resonated with me as I consider my ongoing response to 2020, and as I walk alongside many others who, like me, are trying to faithfully follow Jesus in the midst of a global pandemic, struggling economy, racial unrest, natural disasters and contentious election year. People are simply tired. In fact, “tired” doesn’t do it justice. “Fatigue” is a much better word. Fatigue carries in its meaning the accumulative effect of tiresome events, issues, and engagements. Tired is overcome by a good night’s rest. Fatigue is only overcome by a more intentional and lengthy response.

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Remembering . . .

Earlier this week the United States surpassed 200,000 deaths due to Covid-19. This NBC News story gives a good summary of the impact of this number in our country.

On May 29, 2020 I wrote about the 100,000 deaths caused by Covid-19. In just shy of four months we’ve doubled that number, and some experts estimate it could double again toward the end of the year.

So, why focus on these numbers? Why blog about such sad news? My answer to that as a pastor is that we need to grieve. There has been so much focus on “getting back to normal” and “re-opening the country and our economy” and “pushing for a fast-track vaccine”. I fear in the rush and hurry we are overlooking our need to grieve.

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Staying Vigilant in Loving Others

Note: My day began with a news report that 31 states in the USA are now seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Thankfully, Indiana is not among them. However, cases here remain steady and could always spike again. All of this has me thinking about what is asked of us as followers of Christ in doing our part to keep the virus from spiking? This blog post attempts to address that question.

I have often thought that pastoring a congregation is something like trying to herd cats. Cats, in my observation, are some of the most independent mammals on earth – next to human beings that is. As an American Baptist I have long respected the individualism of our faith heritage. Baptists, in general, are a people who talk about freedom. We champion the religious freedom we enjoy in our nation, and we also champion the soul freedom of each individual to directly connect with God through Christ Jesus. We generally do not like to have our freedoms curtailed or imposed on by others. If you do not agree with that last sentence, I’d like to invite you to the next Baptist congregational meeting where any substantive change is being proposed.

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A Time to Mourn

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die. . . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn . . . Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4

This past week our nation surpassed the 100,000 mark of persons who have died from the COVID-19 pandemic.  This morning I listened to a New York Times podcast that marked this awful milestone by sharing the names – and a little of the story – of 100 of those individuals.  I was moved by this memorial effort.

It is important that we remember and mourn these lives.  We may say, I don’t know them, how can I grieve?  To which I would say, you likely do know someone who has suffered a loss to COVID-19.  Our congregation mourns the loss of two of our members to date.  Our community has counted thirty-four deaths due to the virus.  In the future both of these numbers may rise.

Others have lost income, jobs, and security.  Many are living with a heightened sense of anxiety and have lost innocence, independence, and peace of mind.

Loss has a way of adding up, over time.  Loss not acknowledged or mourned can overwhelm us as its toll accumulates within our person.  If not processed, it will come out as anger, frustration, stress, or surface in other ways.

My own temptation is to press on, push down those feelings of loss, and not dwell on the bad news.  But that only works for a little while.  Each day something eventually reminds me that we are not in a normal time. There are visual cues everywhere, auditory ones as well.  The loss is often palpable.   

So, despite my first thought to not listen to today’s The Daily podcast, given its topic; I’m glad that I did.  It gave me permission to sit for a moment with the reality of those 100 lives, representing over 100,000 lives and over three times that world-wide.  

It helped me process some of what I’ve been feeling. It interrupted my day and my avoidance, pulling me back to simple faith amidst the uncertainty of life.  Faith, that now and in the end . . . . “all shall be well, and all shall be well” (a quote attributed to Julian of Norwhich which comes out of her arguing with God regarding the presence of suffering and death in the world).

Grief processed, mourning permitted, loss acknowledged, and – yes – prayer argued helps reset our mental outlook and reorient us under the care of the Good Shepherd, whom we follow even through death’s dark valley. 

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Hybrids

A “hybrid” is defined as “a thing made by combining two different elements, a mixture”.  Hybrids exist in nature – the offspring of two plants or animals of different species.  For example, a mule is a hybrid of a horse and donkey; a tangelo is a hybrid of a mandarin orange and tangerine.  Apparently, strawberries are hybrids – I didn’t know that, did you?

I used to own a hybrid bicycle – it was a cross between a road bike and mountain bike. And there are many varieties of hybrid cars on the road today – in this case it’s the engine that offers the hybrid quality of gasoline and electric. 

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Filed under #change, Christian Faith, COVID-19, Leadership, Ministry, Pastors