I’ve had conversations with pastors across the United States over the last few months. And while my friends do ministry in vastly different contexts, there is one thing they share in common: pastoring (and pastoral care) in 2020 is the most exhausting, frustrating, difficult season of their lives. The cross-pressures right now on leaders is immense. Some don’t understand why their churches can’t resume the full range of ministries they conducted before the pandemic. Others don’t think there should be ministry at all until there is a vaccine. And then the racial tension in the country has provided a whole different set of discussions with opinions pulling and tugging at a pastor’s leadership. Having to develop new sets of plans every few weeks has worn out so many pastors.
Grace and the common good
What we need in this moment is something Christians are often too late to dispense: grace toward fellow believers. For those of us who sit in the pews, we should give the benefit of the doubt to those in leadership. This doesn’t mean we always agree with hard decisions or always come down in the same spot on cultural discussions. Grace isn’t the same as a lack of accountability for leadership. But it seems that we are too quick to dismiss our fellow believers over disagreements on important but secondary issues. And pastors, trying to display the best wisdom possible, are often caught in the crossfire in their pursuit of the common good for their people.
These times in which we are living are unusual and strange. We are grappling with choices we never thought we’d have to make. Social pressures bombard us every day as we scroll social media and hear what our friends and family are saying. Financial pressures hit us as the economic fallout of the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on communities and families.