Becoming resilient

Resilience is perhaps the most underrated but necessary trait of a pastoral leader. Think about it. We’re supposed to shepherd our people as the world becomes both more connected and fractious, as expectations for clergy grow but respect for ministers ebbs, and as the bar for “active” church involvement keeps getting lowered. Resilience is what keeps us plugging along in the name of Christ when we’d rather binge-watch Netflix and eat our feelings.

Creative Commons "SnowFlowers-4" by nelgdev is licensed under CC 2.0.
Creative Commons “SnowFlowers-4” by nelgdev is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

An article from Faith & Leadership describes resilience as “a kind of lived hope, a way to keep getting up again that has its roots in God’s permanent faithfulness” (C. Kavin Rowe, “Cultivating resilience in Christ-shaped leaders,” 4/23/12). It is not synonymous with toughness, which often results in bottling up our feelings and cutting ourselves off from others. It is also not a denial of difficulty. Instead, resilience is a recognition that God is at always at work, bringing us ever closer in ways that are both now and not yet realities.

So what prompts greater resilience? Consider these questions:

  • What does resilience look like for you?
  • What do you need to let go of to become more resilient?
  • What resources do you need – skills, support, etc. – to be more resilient? Where do you find these resources?
  • How do you point others toward resilience, since resilience is a community endeavor?

When we are more resilient, we are healthier emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We are also more able to tell and hear truth, making relationships stronger and congregations more prepared and eager to engage with the world beyond the parking lot.

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