Are you feeling the weight of making a lot of decisions, being unsure of those decisions, along with their impact? Are you experiencing some “decision fatigue.” These uncharted times have made novices out of all of us because, if we are honest, we live with the reality of knowing we are inexperienced in facing pandemics. How do we stay connected with our people? What does pastoral care and assimilation look like in our new normal? When should we re-enter our buildings? When is it ok to disobey laws (Romans 13:1-6)?
Carey Nieuwhof says, “It’s easier to find relief from the pace than from the weight. Pace can be controlled fairly easy…Weight is what you feel. Weight is the tremendous responsibility many people find impossible to ignore…weight is the stress you feel.” The apostle Paul mentions this weight in II Corinthians 11 where he lists a multitude of external things that created many difficulties. Then in verse 28 he says, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.” The weight of ministry is real.
There is a weight that a shepherd carries and it is something you fell deep within your soul. The good news is that you do not have to carry this weight alone. God promised Paul in II Corinthians 12 that, “My grace is sufficient!” Our strength to carry this weight comes first from the Lord. Your doing things for Christ must come out of your being with Christ because He is the one who strengthens and sustains you. Paul continues in II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?”
Paul challenged the Galatians to carry one another’s burdens. No one should travel alone and everyone needs other people to walk this journey with them. Pride causes you to think that you can handle anything and places the unrealistic weight on your shoulders that you always have to have the answers and know what to do. You need an existing support team in place that can encourage you, pray for you, and hold you accountable. In an emergency on a plane you are told to first put on your oxygen mask (abide in Christ) then help others (bear their burdens).
Here is a testimony from Doug Brewer while attending one of our Activate Pastor Huddles through Zoom. “I hit a struggle on Monday that I have never had before. It really messed with my head! On Tuesday I took my phone and typed in a phrase: decision drain. When I hit search it popped up with the topic of ‘Decision Fatigue.’ I’m considerably better but even in the times of the tornados (May of 2013) and the bombing of the Murrah Building in 1995 (and we lost three ladies in that) I have never been exactly here before.”
“I’ve been intrigued by the topic of DECISION FATIGUE. I’ve been helped by talking to a couple of men at the church, a couple of pastors and just being full blown, straight up honest! When we make decisions we have to make the same decision five or six times based on the people it’s going to effect. It’s easy when you don’t know the people and speak into someone else’s life and say just close the building down. It’s different when it’s your people and you’ve known some of them since they were born and watched them grow up”
“Now they’re graduating. I don’t want to say no! So decisions like: inside, how often; outside?… what do we do, what do we not do? It started to build on me! When it came to squeezing the trigger and making decisions I kept thinking of the 5 other decisions that potentially came with each individual decision. What got in my head was that I’m in these meetings with Larry and all these other pastors and listening to a couple other groups. It seems like everybody else has this together but I don’t.”
“They are telling me their plans and I felt like I was the only sorry leader that doesn’t know plans much past tomorrow. It gets in your head! My favorite thing to do is pastor! I love pastoring even more than I like preaching! I LOVE to pastor! What got in my head was “ you love pastoring, and like preaching, but Doug you’re a miserable leader! This time calls for leadership.”
“It all goes to say I’m grateful for some men and I needed to let other people in. The podcast (Healthy Church Podcast) refreshed me. I have some really good people around me! I had to say ‘I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you.’ It was an internal head thing, but its like puppy love… Don’t make fun of it because it’s real to the puppy!”
I am so thankful for authentic and transparent leaders willing to say, “I do not have it all figured out!” Carey Nieuwhof says, “Only humility will get you out of what pride got you into!” During these turbulent times may we first lean on Jesus and then lean on one another. We need to see less pride and more humility. We need to see more cooperation and compassion and less cynicism and negativity.