By Tammy Devine
Every aspect of our daily life has been altered. We are redefining routines, roles, and relationship expectations. As we live in this transition time, our natural tendency is to cling to the past, to fear what lies ahead, and we struggle to let go of life as we knew it. Transition time uproots patterns, reframes our lives at home, work, and ministry. As people of faith we lean into God’s story.
God’s people struggled after being freed from slavery as they lived into a transition time. Their story recorded in Exodus reminds us of their challenges as they made their way to the promised land. It was time of upheaval. The whole community grumbled, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly.” Their leader, Moses, turns to the Lord (who has heard the people’s grumbling) for help. God provides manna—enough to sustain them.
Leading in this pandemic time calls for centeredness, emotional fortitude, physical stamina, and the wisdom to empower others to share from their strengths. Being attuned to people’s needs, to name and translate grief and gratitude requires empathy and demonstrates care. Wise leaders draw upon the gifts of others to share the weight of navigating this unprecedented time. They prayerfully discern where to place energy and priority. These leaders are not afraid to set boundaries, and are willing to say no.
For just a time as this, God is inviting us to steward all that God has given us. We have each been uniquely gifted for the sake of the whole body of Christ. Empowering and equipping people to live from their gifts provides purpose and meaning. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians: 12:4-6 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them.” We are one body with many parts—provided for the sake of the whole.
In a time of uncertainty listening is key. Making time to listen for God’s direction, to listen to one another, to attend to the different perspectives, experiences, and the various gifts each person brings. Together we can discern what to leave behind to lighten the load and what we will need to move forward for the well-being of the community.
Sometimes saying “no” comes from a place of love, of wholeness and healing. Saying no can mean setting clear boundaries, clarifying small steps forward as we traverse new ground. We know we are not alone. God walks with us. As you think about your community, the needs and people, what part of the body of Christ do they bring? Who in your midst represents God’s hands, feet, ears, or heart?
Consider what support you need and who might help you create a map, provide encouragement to take steps that will allow you to be a healthy steward through this time. For example, the ELCA Coaching Ministry has been walking with leaders, providing a safe space each Wednesday at 1 p.m. Central time. This community invites all leaders to learn together, connect with colleagues for support, and work with a coach to discern the next faithful step.
Navigating through transition requires us to discern who, how, and what is needed to live well in the midst of this dis-ease. What if this transition time allowed us to redistribute the load, strengthen discipleship, realign responsibilities according to God’s giftedness?. Like Moses and Paul, we turn to God for strength, we draw the gifts of the whole body of Christ—so we can pass on our faith.
About the Author
Deacon Tammy Devine is an ICF certified coach and registered nurse currently serving as the Coordinator for Stewardship and Discipleship on the ELCA Coaching Ministry team. She’s passionate about walking with God’s people, collaborating with thought leaders, and inviting people to listen closely to themselves, one another, and God. She previously served as the ELCA Wellness Manager at Portico Benefit Services.