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An Open Letter To Pastors During Covid

Experiencing God's presence during an awful time.

For a time such as this – a once in a century pandemic – you have been called by God as a minister of the Word and the sacraments. I can reassure you of this. Every word that you say to your people about Jesus and the Kingdom of God matters! Every action that you take to inspire them and comfort them with the love of Christ matters! In these very anxious times, the reminder to face every fear with the fact that “the Lord is near” is a hopeful message that matters! In case there’s any doubt, let me be perfectly clear. Your ministry matters!

When all things are said and done and this pandemic is behind us, may you be remembered for the way you inspired others to keep trusting in God and being there for each other during this most challenging time.

But who inspires the inspirer? And how is the encourager encouraged? Who cares for the leader when in-person contact is so limited by social distancing regulations, mask-wearing faces and technically challenging modes of communication?

How you understand God’s presence makes a difference. Moses survived 40 years in the wilderness. He was often discouraged, especially when the people grumbled and longed for “the good old days.” But he rarely, if ever, forgot that God was there for him on the long journey to the promised land. The promise of God’s presence is beautifully expressed in the name that Isaiah gave to the Messiah: Immanuel. “God with us.” A promise also captured in Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” This thought, more than any other, can inspire and encourage every church leader following the One who promised: “Surely I am with you always!”

Refreshed

How you see this moment in time makes a difference too. As awful as it has been and still is, this can be a time to get back to the basics of faith, hope and love. This can be a time to see your self more clearly and move towards service more intentionally. It can be a time to “just be” and re-discover your true and simple calling, namely, to love the Lord and to love your neighbour as yourself. This can be a time to look at your ministry afresh with a heart open to resisting old temptations and welcoming new beginnings, and even second chances.

Finally, how you experience your support systems makes a huge difference. Is your support system healthy and strong? Are you facing today’s challenges as a team player or a Lone Ranger? If married, is your marriage and family as strong as it can be or does it need work so that your spouse and children can better care for you? Do you have a friend who is closer than a brother or sister where you can find the relief of a burden safely shared? I wish you “new friends that are like silver and old friends that are like gold.” This can be a time to refresh your main relationships.

The bottom line? In a time such as this, God is always with you. In a time such as this, God has familiar truths and new treasures for you and the people you are called to serve. In a time such as this, more people care for you and are praying for you than you will ever know. And for a time such as this, you are an essential worker in the Kingdom of God. Thank you for your service!

Your colleague in Christ,
Peter Slofstra
Orillia, Ont.


Does this leave you wanting more encouragement? Find the rest of the Uplifting Words series here.

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