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Religious Professionals and Others: Do Not Burn Up or Out

For those in non-medical* helping professions, the needs in your community may have gone up exponentially. And I'm seeing some great examples of how we're thinking innovatively, figuring out how to tend to the needs of those we serve, in creative ways.

But each of us is only one person.

For those in religious communities, we must work to empower the members of the community to minister to those needs with their own gifts and skills. Religious professionals, your job is to equip and empower. NOT to Do All the Things.

A peek behind the curtain at our church: we've had many people suggest great ideas. And we (ministers and staff) have needed to remind each other that our job is to equip and empower. Trust that our people can take these great ideas and with a little bit of encouragement and resources, do terrific ministry. I put in an email to our team:

Our limitation is not a lack of good ideas. Our limitation is that we are each only one person. And if we try to be more than one person, we will fail or burn up trying. Please don't burn up or out.

We need to have the humility to know that our members also do ministry, religious education, leadership.

There are some things that can, or should, be done by the paid professionals. Namely, providing resources, helping people lead, giving people the tools to set them up to succeed. Listening to members, and formulating and articulating a shared vision for how we live in this time, and how we prepare for the future.

(And, as things get more serious, there will be pastoral needs, difficult pastoral needs, to attend to.)

Spreading yourself too thin will mean that you can't do the things only you can do.

True, too, is this: what ministers to each of us is to be in touch with our purpose. The more people you have doing significant ministry, the more people are filled with a sense of purpose. And, speaking at least for the church I serve ... our people are brilliant. They are creative problem-solvers. They can spot needs and build a framework to address those needs.

There will come the day when the church doors are flung open, and we are all together again. On that day, church members will celebrate how we all ministered to each other, how we took care of both the business of the church, and the business of caring for our people.

*For those in medical professions, especially those on the front lines of this pandemic: we need you to not burn up or out, too. I also acknowledge that in crisis, there is an attitude of "do what you have to do." I fervently hope you can rest. We are praying for you, we are calling our congresspeople and demanding you get the resources you need. We are staying inside. We love you. You are in our hearts.


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