It has now been just slightly over two years since I stopped travelling due to the pandemic. And during that time I have had to make major adjustments to both the way I live and minister. And, I have taken time while the pace of my life and ministry is very different and much slower than previously to rethink and, in some ways, reinvent and refocus life and ministry. It has been a slow, sometimes painful, but fascinating journey.
To continue to be effective in ministry and live a productive life that will allow me to be fulfilled and satisfied (in the right sense of that word) as well as continue to fulfill God’s plan and purpose in my life I realized that I need to:
During the pandemic I had less demands placed on my life and ministry – less travelling, fewer teaching opportunities, less ministry and thus less preparation. So, I disengaged in a number of ways. Less research and reading. Less writing. Less connecting with people (in person). It was like semi-retirement. It is difficult to gear up again when you have geared down. It’s like stepping out of the stands, putting on the old uniform, and getting back in the game. But that is what I have now begun to do.
If I was going to move forward in my older years (I just turned 75) I can’t be half-hearted. I have to reinvest emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. Where and how I invest will certainly change as the world has changed. But, regardless, I need to reinvest.
As a mentor of mine taught me many years ago: Yesterday’s success won’t bring success tomorrow. If I am going to be effective in the post-pandemic world (not yet here) and the ‘new normal’ then I need to take time to see what changes needed to be made in what I do and how I do it. It is time to reinvent my ministry for the last leg of the journey (which hopefully will allow me another 20 years). We either improve and change and work to become the best or we end up somewhat irrelevant to the current culture and no longer effective and productive in both a personal and professional way.
I know I also needed to take better care of my physical body. Although my medical reports say that I am in better physical shape than when I was 50 years old there is still a need to exercise more, eat better, take down time to relax and recharge more often (including a weekly day off), and rest. As my daughter reminds me, I need to be acting my age.
The process and journey is not over and there are a number of changes in scheduling I need to make. There are some relationships I need to walk away from. There are some new skills I need to learn – yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks if he is willing to learn. And there is much to research and understand of the new world we are now in as Covid reinvents itself and war rages on with Russia invading Ukraine and resulting war crimes.
It can no longer be “business as usual” if we hope to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.