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Tempered resilience: Leading from the heart

By: Bishop Laurie Haller, interim bishop

Hot Iron

Photo courtesy of Iowa UMC.

“I just don’t know what to do,” the pastor said several months ago. “Everything has changed, and I think I’m getting too old for this. Half of my congregation understands the need to worship online, but the other half is abusive toward me. I am choosing to follow the science by social distancing, wearing face masks in public, and not conducting meetings in person. I am preparing sermons to deliver by video every week for those who choose to be together in the sanctuary, and I attend meetings by Zoom or conference calls. It grieves me, however, when I am bullied and even threatened because I am following the conference COVID guidelines.

How do you and I lead through this incredible time when we have to learn something new every day? How do we care for our congregations when some dismiss the science and others insist on following precautions? How can we be resilient and thrive in the midst of constant change?

In November 2020, Tod Bolsinger published a book called Tempered Resilience; How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change. Some of you may know Bolsinger as the author of the 2018 book, Canoeing the Mountains; Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.

The premise of Tempered Resilience is that in order to lead our churches to a new place during the Pandemic, we need to lean into the Holy Spirit, learn how to absorb disturbance, and deepen our capacity for spiritual growth and resilience. In the process, we create a new normal for rebuilding community, reaching out to our neighbors, and embodying justice, mercy, kindness, and generosity.

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