We’re pleased to share this recorded conversation created as a resource from The Wesleyan Church Department of Education and Clergy Development. Although this was created in the spring of 2020, the topics remain pressingly relevant for pastors. The discussion ranges over concerns including grief, being tired, leadership, fight-or-flight responses, loss, anxiety, and identity.
This excellent discussion on disruption, crisis, and impact on leaders was led by Executive Director of Education and Clergy Development Rev. Russ Gunsalus, Dr. Toddy Holeman, Professor of Counseling and Chair of the Counseling and Pastoral Care Department at Asbury Theological Seminary, and Rev. Dave Higle, Director of Clergy Care for Education and Clergy Development.
Click play below, and scroll further for excerpts from this discussion.
As Dr. Toddy Holeman elaborates, “We’ve all had losses as a result of being at home, closure of gatherings. If you think about the losses, it’s natural for us to feel this unusual, unexpected sense of sadness and loss, lamenting what we don’t have. That’s a grief that everybody experiences, just put the adjective in front that describes your context.
I read an article recently on ambiguous loss. A death is a clear loss. This is ambiguous loss. It leaves us feeling unsettled, off-kilter. The article used the words ‘uncanny loss;’ when no cars are out, it’s a weird sense. It leads to anxiety. I’m sure that’s part of what all of us are feeling – the unknown future. Will we go back to business as usual – assuming there’s a usual? A result of this bumping up of the known against the unknown – a lot of us will feel fog-brained, foggy, carrying around with us a constant sense of alarm. It’s a combination of, ‘I don’t know what to think, I’m having a hard time making decisions, I’m on edge.’”
Later, she observes, “Part of our problem is our anxiety is a future-oriented feeling – projecting ourselves into a future we have no control over. The best way to go through those uncomfortable feelings is to go through them. Recognize they’re temporary. They ebb and flow. Let them come in. You might cry – welcome to the human race! Experience it in that moment, recognize what’s going on, and treat yourself with the lovingkindness God offers to you – we don’t serve a God who’s shaking his finger at us. Keep your eyes open: God is on the move. Whenever there is major world disruption, God is on the move. Have open ears and eyes to catch up to where God has already gone before us.”
Featured image courtesy Chris Montgomery via Unsplash.