So, have you mastered smiling with your eyes yet? You know what I mean. That weird moment when you’re full-tilt smiling at someone behind your mask at a grocery store or gas station, only to realize that they cannot see you smiling at them?

Out in public, we’re now smiling with our eyes. Thanks to those masks.

Now that we’re on the subject of masks, I hope you have read The Gospel Coalition’s recent post from Brett McCracken. In his helpful article, McCracken writes,

“Masks also make it impossible to forget the depressing reality that COVID-19 is still around; they’re an ever-present reminder that the world we knew in February is long gone.”

Remember February? What a time that was, right?

And yet, those N95s and even bandanas are more than just a facade or a statement. They’re certainly not a political symbol, despite the best attempts to be made such. Like it or not, they’re here for the foreseeable future, and they’ve become a part of ministry. As you know, Arizona has become ground zero for diagnoses of COVID-19, and no doubt, as pastors you are pressing into serve your congregations who are directly or indirectly impacted by the pandemic.

Truthfully, none of us knows how long this is going to last. It’s grating on everyone. Have a quick scan of the news, the latest YouTube highlights, or just google the name “Karen” right now.

A return to normal? A new normal? Absent Christ’s return to set it all right, the truth is, all of this is normal in a broken world.

No doubt it’s exhausting for you, pastor.

Blogger and Canadian pastor, Carey Nieuwhof was refreshingly authentic with regard to the struggles senior leadership face amidst our current global pandemic in a recent piece. Do you resonate with any of the following from Carey’s blog?

  1. I don’t know how much longer I can do this
  2. I’m too tired to address the things I know I’m supposed to fix
  3. My thoughts and emotions are a total yoyo
  4. I’m angry at people for not coming back
  5. I feel best about myself when the room is full
  6. I like the convenience of church online more than I want to admit
  7. I hate the prospect of church online for the future
  8. I’m not sure I or my team have the skillset for the next chapter
  9. I can’t handle any more change
  10. I haven’t taken any time to grieve

Can you relate? One admonishment Carey gives pastors is, never quit on a bad day. I encourage you to read his full article here.

A couple of weeks ago, our Arizona Capitol Project email included a transparent tweet from a pastor in Minnesota. This tough season of ministry has been the hardest one he’s known. Since that time, Pastor Erik Lindeen experienced a panic attack and is taking the month of July to rest from pastoral work.

Brothers and sisters, take care of yourselves and cling to the Shepherd while you’re shepherding your congregations! And smile with your eyes right now through those masks!

Back to those masks one more moment: just in case you missed the Gospel Coalition piece on the 4 reasons to wear a mask, even if you hate it – here are the four biblical points Brett McCracken makes:

  1. To Love Your Neighbor (Matt. 22:39)
  2. To Respect Authorities (Rom. 13:1–7)
  3. To Honor the Weak in Our Midst (Rom. 14)
  4. To Use Freedom for the Sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:19–23)

I pray that as this topic continues to be debated on social media and in our churches, as pastors and leaders, we can take a stand guided by the Scriptures using the four points above.

Smile with those eyes this weekend, and may the Lord bless you and keep you!

 

ICYMI: A little more about Arizona Capitol Project. Our mission is to build a relationship between the shepherds of God’s Church and the government: from our Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C., leaders in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches, and the county and municipal government officials throughout Arizona. Read more

New & Noteworthy.

  • Critical Race Theory? If you are hearing and seeing more mentions of CRT lately, Ed Stetzer hosted Dr. Kelly Hamren on his blog. Here is a very helpful piece to better frame your understanding of this issue against a biblical framework: Click here.
  • Keep an eye on Virginia.This recent email from CAP’s allied organization in Virginia highlights an anonymous reporting line made available by the governor to complain about entities violating social distancing guidelines. This included churches. While one would agree that all should be responsible during a pandemic, this is a cautionary tale. Click here.
  • On Pastors and Social Media. In this 9Marks podcast, Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever have a helpful discussion about how pastors should approach the use of social media. Click here.
  • Pastor or Parrot? Many churchgoers are no longer looking for a pastor/teacher anymore. They’re looking for a parrot. A good article from Breakpoint. Click here.
  • Connect with Arizona Capitol Project on Facebook.

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