Notes from a really useful FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Self Care and Soul Care in a Lengthy Lockdown with Johnny Prime and Ste Casey.
1. The Lord’s shepherd needs the Lord to shepherd him. We need to see ourselves first as sheep who need to be shepherded by the Lord. The Lord will refresh, guide, protect, defeat and bring him safely into His eternal dwelling and will do the same for us.
2. The Lord’s people need us to shepherd them. We are to shepherd God’s people the way He shepherds us. Being shepherded by the Lord is what enables us to be under-shepherds of the Lord.
3. It is not selfish to look after our own health as we seek to serve God’s people.
4. Remember we are whole people. We can’t partition our lives into spiritual, physical, mental, emotional etc. We need basic things: sleep, day off, holidays, balanced diet, exercise, routine, and normal interactions. Plan a whole day off each week and plan to take holiday even during lockdown.
5. Remember the priority of godliness. Godliness involves looking up to God in faith and looking forward with hope whereas worldliness involves looking in at self and looking only at the now. Godliness trumps everything else in value because it equips us in every way enabling us to live with a healthy perspective.
6. Our hope is not that our routine will be returned but that the Lord Jesus will complete His work of beautifying His bride for all eternity.
7. Remember we are in a spiritual battle. Sinful desires war against our souls daily. The devil is looking to devour us. We are not promised any let up in the battle this side of the new creation. We need to keep in step with the Spirit and put on the full armour of God.
8. Remember that we are not the Lord Jesus. We are the under-shepherds of a local flock not the great shepherd of the whole flock. He laid down His life for them, gives eternal life to them, keeps them secure in His hands, and is with them always as they walk through dark times. We are not.
9. We are not fixers but entrusters and we are to help the sheep to entrust themselves to the great shepherd. The eternal well-being of the sheep is not down to me.
10. Remember the need for input from others. To sustain output we need input. Godly self care means we need to receive godly input from others. The danger for us is only being givers not receivers.
11. Contact a fellow pastor and suggest a video swap to give a breather for a week and allow you to sit under another’s preaching.
12. Key part of godly self-care is not forgetting that we are weak and will always be weak, but we have a mighty Saviour who helps us as we look to Him. To weak people, the Lord Jesus says, “For I am the LORD your God, who holds your right hand, who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you. Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel. I will help you”—this is the LORD’s declaration. Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” Godly self-care means trusting the Lord God who cares for us and entrusting ourselves to His care.
13. Uncertainty is taking its toll. It is exhausting. Emotions are running high. Existing struggles seen to be exacerbated.
14. Uncertainty reveals the heart. The human props of certainty have been kicked out from under us. We clamour for certainty, security, predictability, and control.
15. Uncertainty crowds out the Lord. Painful trials preoccupy us – dominate our thinking. Loss of good things (removal of a good blessing from the Lord which is meaningful and precious in our lives) creates grief. When we spend time wishing what could have been, predicting the future and planning for it, or just doing something, the Lord can so easily slip out of sight. We need to remind our people of the presence and reality of the living God.
16. Uncertainty confronts us with reality. “We all live on the ragged edge of any number of disasters: a cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, a senseless attack, a fire, a flood.” We are presented with the reality that we are not God.
17. Uncertainty creates soul care opportunity. The blessings of the ‘normal’ can be celebrated.
18. Andrew Murrray: “At our first entrance into the school of waiting upon God, the heart is mainly set on the blessings which we wait for. God graciously uses our needs and desires for help to educate us for something higher than we were thinking of. We were seeking gifts; He, the Giver, longs to give Himself and to satisfy the soul with His goodness. It is just for this reason that He often withholds the gifts, and that the time of waiting is made so long. He is constantly seeking to win the heart of His child for Himself. He wishes that we would not only say, when He bestows the gift, “How good is God!” but that long before it comes, and even if it never comes, we should all the time be experiencing: it is good that a man should quietly wait. “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him.”
19. Follow up “How are you?” with another question, like “How are you really?” or “With what’s going on with you, tell us your best and worst over the last few days?” or “How are current times affecting your walk with the Lord?” Not to give advice but to go to the Lord with.
20. The Lord knows we are feeble. Accepting that is an act of faith.