May 9, 2020 - Pastor Message05/28/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (CONT.)
“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place” (Mark 6:3032).
I know that last week I wrote that the courage to lead in the face of obstacles was the last characteristic common to all forms of Christian leadership that I was going to cover in this column, but I recently came across an article online that I found helpful during the current crisis. It brought to mind another characteristic that is important for all Christian leaders: self-care. The article is “Quarantine Fatigue Is Real Here’s How to Keep Up Social Distancing Anyway”, by Leah Groth, posted in the Health section of msn.com .
Multiple reports have shown that, while shelter-in place orders requiring people to stay in their homes for weeks now have slowed the spread of the corona virus to levels manageable by most local healthcare systems, the resulting isolation has had other negative effects on people’s health and well-being, including increased anxiety, loneliness, and stress, that in turn have led to increased harmful behaviors such as substance abuse and domestic disputes. Some of our parishioners have expressed to me their own struggles with this “Quarantine Fatigue”, and have sought guidance on how to get through it. The above article emphasizes the importance of taking care of ourselves as the key and offers some steps we can take to strengthen our mental, emotional, and physical health against the negative effects of sheltering in place.
I mention this because self-care is also essential for Christian leaders, as shown by Jesus and his apostles. The reading from Mark above is only one example of the times in the gospels when Jesus and his disciples went away from the hustle and bustle of ministering to the crowds to rest and to pray and to recharge their own personal batteries. They didn’t do so because they were selfish or lazy. Far from it! They did so because they knew that, if they were to serve the people in the way God had called them to, if they were to be there for others when they needed them, they had to stay healthy and energized in spirit and body as well, and that required that they take care of themselves too.
So it is with us, Christian leaders today. If we would be there to serve our families, our parish, and our community, we need to take care of ourselves. The current shelter-in-place order, which could continue in one form or another for many more weeks, presents a serious obstacle to that effort, but it also presents an opportunity for Christian leaders to step up and show others the way by practicing self-care and teaching others how to do it. The suggestions in the above article can be a good place to start. So check it out, think about it, pray about it, and then put it into action for your wellbeing and that of those God is calling you to serve as Christian leaders.
Fr. Marc Stockton