After about eight months of experiencing the worst pandemic we’ve seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919, I expect to feel somewhat adjusted to this new reality. However, like many of you, I begin and end each day with thoughts of how COVID-19 continues to shape my life and work.
One month in—after the shuttering of schools, churches, and businesses—one of my leaders encouraged members of our team to write individual “quarantine reflections,” for future reference. A few weeks ago, I decided to open the virtual time capsule and read what I wrote on April 13, 2020:
My feelings during this season are mixed with peace and anxiety, calm and confusion, focus and distraction. I know that God is all-powerful, sovereign, and good. However, Satan tries to put doubts in my mind and heart. And, I begin to overanalyze the situation and what is going on around me. I start asking, “What if?” I bury myself in my work, because being busy is therapeutic, or at least it keeps some of the doubt and worry at bay. And then, I start thinking, “Is all this work in vain?”
Those thoughts led to a more recent question I’ve been reflecting on: “For whom do I work?” In this instance, the church answer is correct: “I work for Jesus.” The first part of Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” So, how do you and I “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”? Many are the ways, but here are my three for now:
- Be thankful. The second part of Colossians 3:17 says, “. . . giving thanks to God the Father through him.” At the beginning of what my wife and I refer to as, “all this mess,” we created a Blessings Jar and placed it on our kitchen table, along with a pen and note paper. Every time we walked by the kitchen and thought of one of God’s blessings, we would jot it down and drop in the jar. Our married children took a similar approach. Recently, my three-year-old granddaughter’s parents opened a blessing note she had dictated. She was thankful for, “Jesus, donuts, and the cross.” Shouldn’t that be our thanksgiving too—maybe without the “donuts”?
- Love others. Earlier in chapter 3 of Colossians, Paul writes in verse 14, “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” This is something we should already be doing. However, I have discovered that I have developed “COVID-19 Irritability”. I’m less patient than I was prior to the pandemic. Traffic, rude behavior at the grocery store, people who don’t agree with me, people at church who breathe on me. All this and a list of other irritabilities frustrate me more than they did pre-pandemic. But, Jesus says to love others.
- Persevere. Paul writes to another group of believers and encourages them to “not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9) Just when we feel overly burdened with ministry and wondering how much longer we can hold on, God offers encouragement to persevere with the promise of an eternal reward.
Thankfulness, love, and perseverance—three indicators that we work for Jesus. They help us realize that in the midst of a tumultuous and unpredictable world, we are kingdom laborers first. And, those ministry challenges? Our ultimate authority is Jesus. For whom do you work? I hope that my heart, head, and hands indicate that I work for Jesus.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and a general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their five grandchildren.