Commentary

What It's Like in a Pandemic Era Pastor's Shoes

By John Davis | June 1, 2020 | 5:21pm EDT
A priest of the Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo wears a mask in an empty church on April 26, 2020 in Ariccia, Italy. (Photo credit: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
A priest of the Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo wears a mask in an empty church on April 26, 2020 in Ariccia, Italy. (Photo credit: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

According to Psychology Today, “Some sources suggest that the average person makes an eye-popping 35,000 choices per day. Assuming that most people spend around seven hours a day sleeping and thus blissfully choice-free, that makes roughly 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds.”

That’s a lot of decisions. Some are easy, and some are hard.

Being a pastor takes the weight of decision-making to a whole new level.

Leading Edge Journal reports: “As your level of responsibility increases, so does the smorgasbord of choices you are faced with.”

Add to that a global pandemic, and it gets hard. Really hard.

Some decisions affect only me, but most of my decisions affect so many others – my family, my church, my friends, my neighbors, my job, even strangers. Some decisions are private while many decisions are public. And with each decision comes criticism.

It has been said, “We are our own worst critic.” While this is true, we have to admit that we have also become self-proclaimed critics of those in the public spotlight. This is exceedingly so in the age of social media.

I have seen it posted online and heard it said a lot lately, “I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.…” Those words are quickly followed by “but if I was, I would…” Then the critic fills in the blank with what he or she thinks is the best thing to do in a specific situation.

Since we are not actually in that other person’s shoes, we need to apply James 1:19 to our minds and to our hearts: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger….” We need to approach each decision being made right now with the compassion and understanding we would want to receive if, indeed, we were in that other person’s shoes.

If you were to step into the shoes of a pastor right now, here is just a glimpse of what is weighing him down as he makes 35,000 decisions a day in the midst of a pandemic and faces the criticism of each decision.

The weight of collateral damage for every decision made. A pastor knows – and fears – that he is likely to lose members to the church that resumes holding in-person services before he does. Or, it could be the opposite. He could lose those who think he is too quick in holding corporate worship again. In a way, he can sympathize with political leaders who know that their “unpopular” decisions could cost them votes during the next election and possibly their political career.

The weight of comparison to other leaders. A pastor knows the members of his church are comparing his decisions to the decisions of other pastors – what they are doing and will do over the next few weeks. The comparison applies politically too. President Trump’s decisions will be compared to the decisions of other world leaders, governors to other governors, mayors to other mayors and community leaders.

The weight of caring for his people. A pastor knows this is the heaviest honor of all. He delights in caring for his flock in the best of times and grieves with them in the worst of times. He truly hurts when his flock hurts. But the weight of caring well for his flock during a pandemic brings about a new sense of heaviness. He doesn’t want to be responsible for a COVID outbreak in his church because of his decision to resume services. Perhaps the same holds true for some political leaders – those who are really in it for the people.

Despite the weight that he is carrying, I can assure you that there is no one more ready than your pastor to see the church together again. We all have opinions to voice. We all have the ability to pray. And your pastor has a listening ear.

However, the prayers for your pastor are probably valued more than your opinions. Do not just pray for what you think he should do. Pray God’s will (not yours or your pastor’s) be done when it comes to what is best for your church.

Understanding what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes goes a long way.

The author of this blog has been in full-time ministry since 2007. He began pastoring in 2015 and currently leads and loves a church in Northeast Mississippi.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on American Family Association.

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