It’s not exactly what we signed up for.
I mean, we were called to this work and knew it would require intelligence, imagination and love (and energy, so much energy!). Many of us learned how to fix lawn mowers as well as the details of correct concrete application to avoid spalling. We dove deep into scripture for Sunday morning and researched games for youth group for Sunday night. We adapted and adopted and some of us even started wearing shoes (it’s a long story).
But this? Doing ministry from a distance?
We’ve met the technical challenges of our work with grace. Researched new sound and light equipment and figured out how best to be heard in parking lots and on the side lawns of our buildings. We’ve done adaptive work as well and taken the balcony view to try and figure out what is really happening, and how it will impact ministry for the next generation. We’ve held hands virtually with those who are grieving and have conducted funerals via Zoom. Within moments we changed how we worked, worshipped and ministered.
We did so because we were called to this work… but this isn’t what we signed up for, and frankly, this is hard.
Teachers returning to the classrooms might say the same thing.
Those in the healing and helping professions…
Grocery clerks. Librarians.
The list goes on and on.
If there was ever a time for deep compassion and patience, it is now.
Your child’s teacher is juggling more than they have ever dealt with, and that is saying a lot. The guy at the register just had to put up with several customers upset about the lack of (fill in the blank with this week’s item of scarcity). The scheduler at the Doctor’s office has to ask those questions, even if you think it’s obvious you’ve not been out of the country.
And your pastor? Well, there are days when your pastor is ready to quit.
Thom Rainier breaks it down in his article “Six Reasons Your Pastor is About to Quit” where on top of the general weariness felt by all of us, he lifts up congregational infighting (in-person vs. online, mask vs. unmask, etc.), increased workload and criticism as well as the concern for the future of ministry (not just financial concerns, although those are also very real in many congregations).
He doesn’t offer a solution.
I also don’t offer any solutions to all of the above, except the reminder that none of us signed up for any of this… and yet we are still called to be people of grace and peace. We are still called to love one another deeply and sacrificially. We are still called to bear one another’s burdens. We are still called to be the Church.
We are still called. All of us.