“If a groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, then there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If he does not, an early spring will come.”
“If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.”
These weather folklore sayings are intended to give us hope but really that is all it is…hope! Whether a groundhog sees his shadow on a particular day or not, or whether a particular month begins with certain weather are not really accurate predictions that we can rely on. As we mark the 1 year anniversary of the first pandemic lockdown this month we may recall all the ‘predictions’ that have been made over the last year. Predictions such as “this will just be a 2 week extended March break” to closure and restriction extensions, from health officials ‘modelling’ and numbers data to vaccine creation and distribution, there have been no shortage of predictions made. Perhaps as ministry leaders you have made predictions over the last year as well. At times, predictions may turn out to be accurate but it seems that over this last year when it comes to the effects of the pandemic, often those predictions have turned out to be about as reliable as our weather folklore!
Recently I participated in a webinar in which authour and speaker Andy Crouch offered some words worth reflecting upon for ministry leaders as we consider the ways forward in this pandemic/post-pandemic season. Employing the use of the wedding vows analogy he urged leaders to lean into building trust with people by making promises, not predictions. Just as a man and woman stand on their wedding day reciting their vows of promise “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…” and not predictions of what kind of person they will be or what situation they will be in 5, 10, 15 years down the road, he urged leaders to move away from any particular ministry “predictions”. He suggested, rather to build in “unpredictability” while also offering promises. “What promises can leaders make?”, he asked. He invited ministry leaders to consider the commitment of “what we will be like regardless of what the future brings.” I have been reflecting on those points and what that looks like for my particular ministry calling. I wonder if this is helpful for you to reflect on in your ministry calling? Whether your calling is to preach the Word, offer pastoral care and counsel, lead discipleship and ministry experiences with children and youth, equip families for faith formation, teach the Bible or any number of other activities we engage in as Christian communities of faith and discipleship you are able to live into promises regardless of the accuracy of predictions.
There is no doubt that this last year has included circumstances for which we need to lament and circumstances for which we need to celebrate. Rather then trying to predict when life may return to “normal” or even what “normal” will look like I want to lean more into the promise to live out my calling as a follower of Jesus, as a wife and mother, as a minister of the gospel, as a denominational leader called in this season to support and encourage effectiveness among our faith communities in ministry with children and families with a servant heart. I promise to continue leaning into a posture of listening, learning and serving with grace and love, rooted in the person of Jesus. I promise to relentlessly pursue creative opportunities to effectively carry out my calling regardless of whether pandemic restrictions require physical distancing and in person restrictions by holding onto the promise that God is in control, Jesus is present in the midst of the range of human emotion and experience, the Holy Spirit is actively making Himself known and empowering the work of ministry and I can rest in Him. What about you? What are the promises you are leaning into? What will you and the ministry you lead be like regardless of what the future holds?
I would love to continue a conversation or pray with you as you consider who God is calling you to be. Send me an email and let’s chat!