For pastors, much of our time is spent around people. While we have a priority on our preparation, study, and research for our preaching/teaching, we operate mostly around people. Well... that's not so easy anymore. Hospitals are closed to visitors, even family. Nursing homes don't allow you to stop in anymore. Most people don't want home visits. We're not able to have Bible studies or gatherings like we're used to.
So what do we do with our extra time? It's easy to fall in to the trappings of the moment and find yourself surfing the web, scouring Facebook for the latest articles or news, pounding the last of the snack reserves, fighting the crowds to get the last roll of toilet paper, or wasting your time. The alternative is to capitalize on this season and make the most of your time (Ephesians 5:15) for your personal and professional development.
1. Read More - You know that stack of books on your shelf that you stare at and then walk away from? Now is the time to start working through it! My encouragement is to read widely. Don't just read theology. Grab a biography, and interesting non-fiction, look at the NY Times bestseller list, see what's available on Kindle Unlimited. There's no NCAA Tournament, no NBA games, and no MLB. You can only binge watch Tiger King so long guys. And as a personal plug, my book on preaching and my book on pace in ministry are available for free on Kindle right now!
2. Exercise! - True story. You can grab so many web-based workouts and do-it-at-home options without having to use "well, the gym is closed" as an excuse. I know it's been easy to eat all your snack reserves, but take some of the extra time you have to go for a walk, do an online workout, or tackle that DIY project that's sure to get your heart rate, and blood pressure, up.
3. Worship - For so many of us in leadership, worship is something we take for granted. We take it for granted because it's a built in rhythm to our lives, and we take it for granted because when we have the responsibility of leadership we so many times fail to care for our own souls. Again, with the overload of churches broadcasting their services, Bible studies, and the YouTube library, there are no shortages of ways to worship and feed your soul. I've gotten fed digitally by friends and colleagues in ministry who I wouldn't otherwise.
1. Free Classes - It's easy to think of learning as something we did when we were in seminary or Bible college, but this provides us an incredible opportunity to sharpen our skills and grow in our learning. Best of all, many places are already offering these! Southeastern Seminary has a large selection of online classes you can take for free. Other options include Dallas Seminary, Denver Seminary, Gospel Coalition, RTS, and Zondervan.
2. Webinars - There are a number of great webinars that are available to help us grow significantly in our ministry, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Your email box is likely full of them. I'm typing this while I'm listening to one from Church Answers, I've got another in the queue from Barna, and another scheduled for Friday.
3. Network - You know the feeling you've got as a pastor where you don't know what you're supposed to do? Guess what, you're not alone. Before the CDC's recommendations hit hard enough that churches across the country shut down physical operations, I spent time at a pastor's roundtable. None of us could remember the "Global Pandemic" class in seminary, so we were working through some issues together. Grab your phone and call/text some other pastors and ministry leaders. Be an encouragement. Be a prayer partner. Pick their brain of how they're doing ministry now.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.