Yes, it was a rough year. Excruciating actually. You don’t need me to remind you why and how.
But we’ve learned quite a bit in this year of pandemic/election craziness/bitter divisions. Here are a couple things:
- Good leaders are good leaders – no matter what’s going on. They know how to pivot when plans need to be changed. They know to accept failures as their own and to acknowledge others for successes. They do not withhold important information from colleagues in order to hoard power. They are permission-giving within the parameters of The Big Picture (which for congregations is to expand the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven.) Good leaders ponder how “the worst thing that could happen” might actually open doors for better things (e.g. Moving from 100% in-person Church to a blend of in-person and virtual Church.) Good leaders are both vulnerable and hopeful.
- Proximity determines our truth. Brian Stevenson talks about the importance of proximity in terms of loving our neighbors as ourselves. If we and our neighbors remained employed, well-fed, healthy, and comfortable during these Covid Months, then 2020 was not so bad. And so maybe we didn’t believe that the virus was as deadly as the media said. Maybe we didn’t pay much attention to relief packages debated by our Congress. Maybe we loved these months of working from home. This is the definition of privilege: if it doesn’t impact us, we don’t believe there’s a problem.
- Crisis reveals what we value. Do we hunker down with a year’s supply of toilet paper? Or do we step up in our charitable giving? I know people who’ve lost their jobs and are still serving as generously as they are able.
- Crisis reveals our politics. Do we believe that bolstering the financial power of corporations will help our country more than bolstering the financial power of families? Or the other way around?
Special note to Pastor Nominating Committees: if your congregation is seeking new leadership in 2021, please keep what we’ve learned in mind:
- Please call a leader to be your next pastor – not someone you can control, not someone who will never offend anyone, not someone who fears the congregation more than they fear God.
- Please call a leader who encourages authentic relationships with a wide variety of God’s children both within and outside the church walls. The congregation will not impact the community if the pastor has no interest in the community.
- Please call a leader who knows that the Church is not the building. The building is merely one tool for ministry and if it’s not being used as often as possible as a tool for ministry, then it’s probably an idol.
- The Bible is an equal opportunity offender in terms of politics. If we try to live our lives through the lens of Scripture, each of us will see that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We can all do better.
Full disclosure: I am personally convicted by the number of verses about caring for the poor (more than 2000) over the number of verses about building up our own power/coffers/self-interests. Does your voting record reflect this?
Great things can happen 2021, if we have learned anything from 2020.
Although the church’s sanctuary was closed, our church did not stop being “the church.” I was blown away by the offerings that came in to the deacon’s fund to help those outside of our building. In my year-end report, these were the parting words, “Deacons stepped up, stepped in, and took care of those needs. In a year like no other, Westminster remained committed to Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
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I love your statement of scripture as an equal opportunity offender. I believe that the divisions of our time give us a peculiar opportunity to discern this.
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