Pastor’s Corner (7/22/2021)
In my final reflection on leadership expert John Maxwell’s book Attitude 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, I want to explore his final two comments about the importance of dealing with adversity. As you may remember he described several key reasons to embrace adversity.
- Adversity creates resilience.
- Adversity develops maturity.
- Adversity pushes the envelope of accepted performance.
- Adversity provides greater opportunities.
- Adversity prompts innovation.
- Adversity brings unexpected benefits.
- Adversity motivates.
I explored the first two reasons for embracing adversity in my Pastor’s Corner at the end of June and went on to explore 3, 4, and 5 in my last article. Now we come to the final two invitations that grow out of embracing adversity: finding unexpected benefits and receiving motivation. Without minimizing the pain and suffering that has arisen in the course of life during a pandemic, it is important for us to ponder the unexpected benefits that may arise as well. For me, one of the unexpected benefits has been the reminder of the presence of resilience. I think we are invited to celebrate our resilience, both as individuals and as a congregation. Sadly, many entities will not survive the pandemic. We hear daily of businesses and organizations that have not survived. While this is very sad, the reality is that we have survived. All of us will be forever changed but we continue on. Many things look different and yet the core components of our faith community remain. We continue to worship God weekly and for special occasions. We were one of the first mainline Protestant congregations to resume in-person worship at the beginning of June 2020. We continue to care for our members and reach out in fellowship. We have welcomed new members and greeted our two incoming Seminarians in Residence. In July we will dedicate two of our newest members in worship. In August we will once again hold our Kamp Kaleo Rummage sale and host the Regional Disciple Women’s Retreat. Many of these activities will look familiar and, at the same time, may look a bit different. A lot of exciting things are happening here at FCC.
I think one of the other benefits that has arisen is a sense of gratitude for the people in our lives. Having been separated for months has bred an appreciation for in-person contact. We have also found more ways to keep in touch and keep connected. An additional benefit has been our growing ability to faithfully use technology. This benefit was eagerly anticipated and will require ongoing work. In my mind, another benefit has been the many ways in which all of you have continued to support our mission and ministry here at FCC. Your financial fidelity has kept us going and is greatly appreciated. The many ways in which people have stepped up to keep us going has been truly awesome. As we move forward, I believe we will continue to discern many more benefits from this period of adversity. I would love to hear from others: what are some of the unexpected benefits that have become evident for you personally? What do you see as some of the unexpected benefits for FCC? Perhaps you even have a sense of the unexpected benefits for our community, nation, and world.
Finally, Maxwell talks about the idea that embracing adversity can motivate us as we move into the future. The awareness that we have persevered can empower us to face adversity in our lives and world. Our time in isolation and quarantine can make us more grateful for all the people that gift our lives. This shared experience can also motivate us to reach out to friends, family, and strangers. We can be even more motivated to show care and compassion towards ourselves and others. Again, I would love to hear from others: how has this global experience motivated you? Has this experience moved you in new areas of your life or has it prompted you to reclaim something or some practice from your past?
This has been a challenging time for us all and the effects are still being discovered, for good and for ill. May we allow ourselves to be motivated to care for ourselves, for those we love, and for the strangers in our midst. We have been through a lot and God continues to abide with us and guide us into an often unknown future. Whatever adversity comes our way God is with us and abides with us even, and often especially, in the midst of it all.
With gratitude and love,