Pastors’ Post Traumatic Pandemic Stress Disorder (PPTPSD) is real. Pastors are battle weary. Disappointed and saddened by the extremists on both sides of the common issues have sucked the life out of the most devout clergyperson. Angry church folks seem eager to lob their hot potatoes in the pastor’s direction. They come flying from the left and right. It seems that every day is a new fight. There’s always a new hill on which he/she is to die upon. It’s exhausting. Pastors’ Post Traumatic Pandemic Stress Disorder (PPTPSD) is no joke.
The PPTPSD pastor looks at the once occupied pews, and realizes that those who used to sit there have been tricked into making church attendance one of many options for a Sunday morning. If they are coming at all. Staring down empty seats, makes one question whether any difference was made prior to the pandemic. “Did I teach them anything? Was it in one ear and out the other? Was church attendance simply a showoff, look-at-me performance or sacred endeavor to meet regularly with God? What am I doing here?”
The pastor suffering from PPTPSD looks at those same former occupiers of the pews and sees pictures on social media of them sipping coffee from a Bible verse inscribed mugs, spewing platitudes of godliness and telling their followers what’s wrong with the church. It creates more deep-in-your-gut-stress.
Those fighting for their very survival see friends and colleagues who likewise suffered from PPTPSD, and threw up their hands and said, “it ain’t worth it.” They are now selling insurance, working at non-profits or Chick-Fil-A. Can anyone blame them? The corporate world offers non-believers who want to hear that Jesus is making all things new. Too often, the church world is filled with cynics who have been discipled by a news channel. How many times can pastors bang their heads up against that wall and not be affected?
Exhausted and beaten the PPTPSD pastor looks at the toll the past couple of years have taken on his/her family. They don’t like what they see. Their family is weary too. Is PPTPSD contagious? Apparently. The family’s question is: “Couldn’t you sell insurance too? It has to be better than this.” It’s hard to argue to the contrary.
The PPTPSD pastor looked to denominational leadership for help. Too often those with the big desks are so intent to not rock anyone’s boat that they are eerily silent when needed most. Sitting in an ivory tour is safe when the world is crashing. But it’s not helpful to the struggling, in the trenches, clinging for their ecclesiastical life and sanity while trying to minister clergyperson. They plea, “Help us, help us.” Crickets. Silence.
What’s the answer to the PPTPSD pastor’s most honest and deepest question: How can I make it another day? Surprisingly, it is the same answer if asked on their most successful and wonderful day (it’s sounds Sunday-Schoolish): It’s Jesus. It’s still Jesus. Jesus must be the supreme focus. Nothing to the Right. Nothing to left. Just Jesus. Stay focused on Jesus.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Pastors’ Post Traumatic Pandemic Syndrome Disorder sufferer needs to hear those words now again and again. Rest. Let Jesus give you rest. Rest might include a professional counselor. Rest might mean pausing ministry to focus on you and your family’s well-being. Rest might mean a lot of things. But it’s mostly a settled spirit from Jesus himself.
And maybe, who knows, while Jesus is comforting you, he just might make it uncomfortable for your absent or cynical or cable-news-immersed critics. Jesus has been known to flip some tables at the sight of posers. He’s done it before, He can do it again. Let Jesus take care of those folks and their hot-potato-lobbing ways. It’s not your job, Pastors’ Post Traumatic Pandemic Syndrome Disorder survivor. Jesus is near. Jesus hears. Hang in there. You’ll make it if you keep your eyes on Him.