Before You Live Stream: Personal Care

Superintendent Fraser Venter

On Easter weekend, we saw staggering numbers for our live streaming events and services. Thank you for your part in reaching the people you love and serve, and the many others who checked in to view your messages.

As we all are trying to navigate this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, your ministry is making a difference. You make a difference by encouraging and bringing hope through the relevancy of the good news of the Gospel. You give people confidence. You share Jesus with everyone around you. Please know that all this hard work and all the prep for the sake of just maybe one is worth it all.

But as we continue to build on our online presentation, the process of producing events can be overwhelming and, to be honest, for me, a little distracting. We all want to present excellence, but I’ve realized that my calling to lead at this moment goes way beyond pulling off a great live stream. In response, I had to take an inward look at some things I see as vital weekly principles as a pastor/leader to be lived out and practiced.

Here they are, and for me, the order is significant.

  1. Personal Self Care
  2. Family Care and Reflection
  3. Proactive Leadership
  4. Collaborative Creativity
  5. Compassionate Generosity

Today, I want to focus on Personal Self Care. And in the coming weeks, I will share about the other four practices but always open for a Zoom call to discuss any time if you like.

Like you, all my leadership instincts have kicked into high gear during this pandemic. We show up, we analyze, we strategize, we learn (No, Pandemic 101 in seminary, right?), we connect, and we get it done. This is what leaders do, but it is unsustainable for the long term. I knew I was beginning to hit the wall emotionally, physically, and spiritually as I went above and beyond to help and lead others. Yes, I delegated, and yes, I shared my burdens; nevertheless, the unseen pressure of being present at a higher level is hard to delegate or share.

This became clear when I hit the running trail to clear my mind. As I was running, the thought came to me of how we chase after God. At any other moment, this phrase would be inspiring to me, yet at this moment, it was refining to me. If God was on the trail in front of me, a chase would imply that 1) He is unreachable, 2) He doesn’t want to be caught, or 3) I was not already near Him. I stopped on the trail, and it was as if the Holy Spirit said, “I would rather run with you then to be chased after. Slow down, breathe, and be with me!” Not only did I appreciate slowing my actual pace, but I genuinely needed to hear that “leading by chasing” is neither the example I should be presenting nor a healthy model of self-care.

Here are a few things for you to consider this week regarding self-care.

Do Not Neglect Your Sabbath

You did not create the world nor are you the solution to this pandemic. Twenty-four hours with Jesus and loved ones – where you are not the leader – is probably the best thing for your soul and for the people you are called to love and serve. COVID-19 may still be happening, but it will be better faced through rest.

Eat Well and Sleep Well

We don’t need grumpy and unhealthy pastors. Besides, you don’t want to put more pressure on our first responders. Get your rhythms of eating and sleeping back. Remember: Netflix can wait.

Walk or Run Daily and Be Outside

You have to get out of your space and get the endorphins moving. Your body needs to be in motion, not sitting in front of a computer all day.

Don’t Isolate

Except on your Sabbath, reach out to one person and just say hi, see how they are doing, and share how you are doing. If you need help or care, please reach out to your Superintendent Team.

Engage in Your Spiritual Disciplines

I love Adele Calhoun’s book on Spiritual Disciplines as it combines formation with your disciplines (interior as well exterior work)

Do Something You Enjoy That Is Not Pastorally Related

It’s okay to engage in holy fun at this moment, and you don’t have to post it on social media. Let it be your fun moment with the audience of one, Jesus.

Listen to Your Spiritual Heart

This season, so many things are surfacing that often remain covered in our busy-ness or strategic neglect. Pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is revealing. It may be you are tired, anxious, depressed, needing to forgive, or needing to take a long nap. It’s okay because He is okay with all of who you are.

On the trail, the Holy Spirit reminded me that it would be better for me to run (walk, laugh, pause) with Him than model chasing after Him with every hour and day in this pandemic. When my whole self is at rest with Him, the Holy exchange of His Peace is graced upon my shoulders. I can lead with that weight because I know He is doing the heavy lifting. And so, can you.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

3 John 2-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Grace and Peace as you Self Care and Lead,

Reverend Fraser Venter

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