Zoomed Out and Locked Down – How to be Refreshed
The coronavirus lockdown has given extra spare time to many, yet it seems there is more than ever to do for church leaders. Here are four things to remember if you need to be refreshed during lockdown.
For many pastors and church leaders the coronavirus lockdown is proving to be a busy time: fresh challenges are being encountered; new skills are being acquired; alternative methods of pastoral care are being found.
For many it is also proving to be a wearying time: restricted to our homes; sharing space with the rest of the family; spending considerable time on video meetings (aka becoming ‘Zoomed out’). It is hard to distinguish between work time and down time, between days off and days of work.
As lockdown started some suggested that it might be a restful time, a time to take stock, a time to plan and pray about the future. However, for many, it is proving to be anything but restful.
What do we need?
We need ongoing spiritual refreshment: the refreshment that means we are like a palm tree that stays fresh and green, bearing fruit for the glory of God.
How will that happen?
Let me suggest four things to remember if we are to be refreshed during lockdown.
1. Remember that refreshment comes from the Lord, our Shepherd
In Psalm 23:2 David testifies about the LORD, his shepherd: “He refreshes my soul.”
Without the LORD refreshing our souls we will quickly become parched and dry. Each morning our risen Lord Jesus knocks on our door and refreshment comes as we open the door to listen to His voice and to respond to him in prayer.
A ditty from my teenage years is as of relevance today as it was then:
Before you start the day
Take time alone to pray
And feed upon God's word to know his way.
So start the day with him
And walk the way with him
And come to evening time with praise to him.
It is tempting to spend prolonged time reading or listening to the multiple voices available on social media. By all means listen or watch something that refreshes you, but it is wise to choose one or two things and stick with them, taking time to pray home what you are hearing/watching.
2. Remember that refreshment comes as we submit to a rhythm of work and rest
Made in the image of our Creator, we need refreshment after work and to sustain work. While some of us may be prone to idleness, many church leaders are activists and find it hard to stop.
Exodus 31:17 records that in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh “he rested and was refreshed.” Rest and refreshment is the fruit of submitting to the pattern set by our wise Creator at creation.
How foolish to think we do not need that rest!
Plan time off during lockdown. Time off work, away from the screen and your phone, fast from social media and 24/7 news. Do it for yourself and encourage it among the family.
If we don’t we are likely to emerge from lockdown exhausted and unable to seize the opportunities and challenges we will then face.
3. Remember that refreshment comes as we seek to refresh others
We all miss the regular gathering of God’s people but how grateful we must be for every modern means of technology that enables us to keep in touch with each other.
The principle of Proverbs 11:25 is true: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” At a time when David was restricted from doing what he would have wanted to do, Jonathan went to him and “helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
Maybe you could plan to make three phone calls each day to other believers simply to ask them how they are, to share something with them about the Lord and to pray briefly with them.
Don’t imagine that any believer is beyond needing refreshment. It is likely that you will be refreshed, even as you are a refreshment to them.
4. Remember the link between thankfulness and contentment
While few will be enjoying lockdown, we are called to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation. We can do this only through our Lord Jesus who gives us strength and as we keep on counting our blessings.
Thanksgiving’s preoccupation is with what God has done. We should thank God for our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25; Colossians 1:12), for our Saviour himself (2 Corinthians 9:15), and especially for his death on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:24,25).
We should thank God for our fellow-believers (Romans 1:8). We should thank God for fellowship and Christian kindness (Acts 28:15). We should thank God when we benefit from the generosity of others (2 Corinthians 9:11).
We should give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).