In the 90s, a state university in southern Missouri handed me a diploma signifying I’d earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, magna cum laude. For the next ten years, give or take, I held various jobs in communication, marketing and public relations. I got pretty good at delivering a message to an audience.
I also recall thinking to myself time and again, nothing in my education prepared me for this-or-that particular, real world assignment.
Here we are, living in a pandemic. More than once I’ve thought, and my friends have echoed the idea, nothing has prepared us for this. As a writer who is a Christian, I guide people along their faith journeys. Traces of faith, finding God in your every day. These days I’m spending more time in scripture and less time sharing words with my readers.
God whispers lead by example.
For those of us trying in one way or another to lead people through this pandemic, we’ve never done this before. Go easy. Pray. Read your Bible. I keep thinking specifically of our pastors. Shepherds leading the sheep.
The enemy whispers nothing in your education prepared you for this.
An almost truth and we know where those come from. Recognize it. I had an epiphany yesterday. As a society, we are grieving. There’s the obvious grief of death and sickness and terrible diagnosis. We all face those hard things at various times. The coronavirus has added another layer of grief though.
We grieve the loss of control. We grieve our inability to come and go as we please. We grieve because we miss seeing our friends and family. We grieve over our lack of gathering together as a local church. We grieve because we don’t know when things will go back to normal and we don’t even know for sure what normal looks like anymore.
I have not attended seminary but I’m certain there was at least a little training on walking people through grief. There are (at least) five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Feel familiar?
My pastor happens to be excellent at ministering during times of grief.
Who wants to be known for being good at walking alongside the grieving? He is though. He’s gifted with words of comfort at the right time, his funeral messages are personal yet gospel-centered. He has led us as a congregation through grieving on Sunday mornings. He’s able to minister to every member of a family, whether they are members of his flock or not.
It's not really about his words though. Not really. It’s the ministry of his presence that consoles.
Spiritual leaders, you are walking us through the valley of the shadow of death. When we see your face on our screens and hear your voice, we’re reminded of our Shepherd. The Lord who makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside quiet waters, refreshes our soul and guides us along the right paths for his sake. You're pointing us to Him again and again. Thank you.