Avoiding the New Normal of the Holding Pattern Blahs
If you are reading this, I know you are a leader and speak to you as to a leader. As a leader, it is important to keep yourself free of this life’s burdens, entrapments, and baggage, so you can be prepared to serve our Master for his honor and glory. Being resilient is a key part of that vibrancy in leadership to which you have been called.
The following is an edited form of an encouragement sent to the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day) Southwest District, GC COG7 SWD, Board at a unique time late last year. The point of this post is to remind us of a necessity for the fruitfulness of the branch that abides in Jesus Christ. It is an insight into something that contributes to our resilience during wearisome moments of our lives.
Today the encouragement is even more appropriate than when it was shared six months ago. Local Churches are making decisions about appropriate times and provisions for reopening the Local Church buildings for services. In this pandemic the Church, both the GC COG7 and all other denominations, has experienced both tribulation and blessing. It is especially significant to take note of that as the United States of America recorded the milestone of over 1.7 million cases of COVID-19 being diagnosed and passing the marker of 100,000+ people who have lost their life in the past 3 months, losing over 1,000 lives a day, according to The New York Times. As of the writing of this blog post The New York Times accounting stands at 100,418 deaths.
In pain and sorrow the Church has seen people get sick and die. While all human suffering is remorseful for the disciples of Jesus Christ, except as it may serve to bring them to Christ for their salvation, the suffering is especially intense knowing at least some of those afflicted are of families in the household of faith. Their eternal reward being secured in Jesus Christ is a rich blessing indeed. Knowing that upon the return of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, they will be receiving glorified bodies that will never taste the agony of death is such a comfort for those passing from this life and their family and friends. However, loss of relationship, even for this age is painful, especially for those closest to the one who is finishing their stay in this age. Those of us who have been spared the suffering of ourselves and closest family and friends show compassion and love towards others when we empathize with their pain, suffering, and loss.
The pandemic has also served to bring us rich blessings and encouragement. We have discovered God is still building the bride of Jesus Christ and circumstances cannot prevent him from accomplishing his plans. New methods and practices have been employed for the work of the gospel, fellowship, edification, and worship. A momentary wave of unity has been spread over the Christian community. While one hopes it lasts until the end of this age, history has taught us it may be momentary and we should redeem the moment for the honor and glory of God, the edification of the Church, and the continued work of the gospel. It is truly an encouragement to see people who were content to sit in Church and consume upon its grace prior to the pandemic to now be engaged in the work of the Kingdom cause of Jesus Christ through prayer, worship, social media, and newly developing methods for fellowship of the body.
Knowing the turbulence of personal stability that comes with times of great blessing paired with great sorrow such as all experience during key holidays, other times of our lives, and especially the pandemic in which we have found ourselves these last few months with an appearance of more time to work before this issues is resolved, I wanted to share some with you today.
The following article is not flashy, catchy, or driven by new insights or fads. It will not produce warm-fuzzies after reading it. It is solid counsel for the reality of life and its consequences.
You, Members of the SWD Board, know I do not spare you the sorrows of service nor deprive you the joys of victories, but allow you to taste first-hand the bitter-sweet flavor of being a redeemed servant of our Master equally with me as true Ministry Partners. Not only in your lives as ordinary humans who encounter similar experiences as all humans, in your life you are called to do extra-ordinary ministry because of God’s purpose, presence and power in you. For everyone else reading this post, I will be very candid with you. If you are a Ministry Partner with the GC COG7 SWD and its Superintendent, the same is expected of you. We are slaves of the King and prisoners of his service. We have no other purpose greater than serving our Master and King, even as joint heirs with him in glory now and forever.
Here is the point. If you are not resilient, life’s consequences can destroy your resolve. There used to be a sports commercial proclaiming “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, with video clips to emphasize the point. What will your highlight reel show in your service as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Just as we depend upon the continual filling of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that put the breath of life and new nature in Christ in us, to keep us vibrant and productive so we do not wither away, we need to be resilient and able to keep getting up and moving forward, regardless of the obstacles we encounter. It is especially true when we encounter circumstances like a pandemic such as we are presently experiencing.
Presently, one of the greatest frustrations to those caught in the circumstances of the pandemic, which is everyone, is the “New Normal Blahs”. No, you are not likely to find that term anywhere else. But it means people are longing for the old normal to return and are finding the new normal is not normal at all. In fact, the new normal is a constant learning curve of what it means to not be able to return to former norms. As an illustration, it is like being caught in the holding pattern when your plane is attempting to land at an airport, but it just keeps circling and circling, never able to put its wheels on the ground. Whether it might be the weather, other air traffic, or some dignitary and security concerns preventing airport operations, the plane can only circle and circle, ever so close but unable to reach the terminal. Then the concern becomes, how long can this keep going? Such is the “New Normal of the Holding Pattern Blahs”.
It requires and uncommon resilience. “Resilient people have worked out a way of tuning in to the good around them. One day, when doubts were threatening to overwhelm me, I distinctly remember thinking, ‘You cannot get swallowed up by this — you’ve got so much to live for. Do not lose what you have, to what you have lost.’” — Lucy Hone
You can share more of her ideas at the following link.
According to Lucy Hone, she uses three strategies in being resilient. The following are her go-to strategies that she relied upon and which saved her in her darkest days. She declares three tactics underpin all her work, and they’re readily available to all of us.
- Know that suffering is part of life.
- Carefully choose where you are directing your attention.
- Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?”
- Recognizing in this life all suffer helps one avoid the “why me?” syndrome.
- It is not happenstance that you are continually reminded to “Focus On Jesus and Follow His Plan.” It is biblical, therapeutic, and productive for the Kingdom of heaven and for you.
- Being reminded of Jesus responses to Satan when he was tempted after his days in the wilderness remind us we need to be continually on guard and asking ourselves, “Is what I am doing helping me or harming me?” Evaluating that question and the area of our lives about which it is being asked serves to keep us resilient and prevent our being pulled into the abyss of destruction by harmful lusts, habits, choices, and behaviors.
You will recognize such biblical perspectives as Jesus’ teaching on common things happening to all people (Matthew 5:45), elements of the Serenity Prayer or things over which we have no control such as the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:15) and things we can do (Luke 13:24; Luke 21:36; Genesis 32:25-26; Matthew 11:12; John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:29; Hebrews 4:11; 2 Peter 1:10) and the value of objective discernment for personal choices, “choose you this day…”, a gift of God’s grace.
May the fruitfulness of your ministry abound to the glory of God, the edification of the Church and the harvest of souls by the power of the gospel. Your resilience is the manifestation of Christ in you, let him shine through you to mighty works.