"Into each life some rain must fall." That is from a song sung by the Inkspots in 1944, but my Mom used to say it to me when I was growing up. It generally would be said when things were not going my way and I was being a bit of a brat about it. But, it's a true statement. In life, there will be times of rain. Times when things just don't go the way you planned. When something happens that throws you for a loop. Leading during those times can be difficult because our focus can easily be on ourselves...and in some ways it needs to be.
Rain can come in many forms. It can be an unexpected big expense that you have to find a way to afford (like a car or home repair). It can be a family crisis like an extreme illness or death. It could even be a job change or some other life transistion. Sometimes the rain is annoying but not overwhelming. Sometimes it comes in huge torrents that you're not sure how you will ever get through. The only thing we can be sure of is that in life, there will be rain. And we still have to lead even in the midst of that rain.
So what do we do when the rain hits? Here are a few things I've learned from my own rainstorms:
1) Don't forget your time with God
When the rain comes, it can be easy to get so focused on whatever the problem is that we neglect our time with the Lord. And when the rain feels torrential, sometimes it seems like it's all we can do to get through the day...But keep your focus on the One who is bigger than the rain. Depending on what is going on in your life, you may not be able to form the words you want to say, but that's ok. Sometimes just being in His presence is enough. Lean on Him. Let His strength be your strength. He won't let you down.
2) Don't try to go it alone
Sometimes, in ministry, we feel like we are islands. But we are not. Share your burden with your spouse, or if like me, you're not married, share with a friend or family member. Sometimes just hashing out an issue with someone you trust can change your whole perspective. You don't have to publicly share your pain on Facebook, but you should share it with a trusted confidant.
3) It's ok for your congregation to know you are hurting
In the past 7 months, I lost both my Grandfather and Grandmother. And it has been a process to deal with the grief of their passing. In fact, I'm still grieving, but my church family was amazing. My Grandfather's passing was unexpected and quick and my church family hugged me and prayed for me during those shocking days. Then five weeks later, my Grandmother's death came after watching her weaken for 10 days in the hospital. On the day she passed, several people from my church showed up to the hospital, gathered around me and prayed. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. In the days and weeks that followed, they were a constant source of strength during a very trying time. We pastors don't always share all the things going on in our lives with those in our ministry, but there are times when it is appropriate to let the congregation know our hearts are hurting. Let them be the hands and feet of Jesus during those difficult times in your life.
4) Don't be afraid to get professional help when it's needed.
Sometimes, it takes more than advice from a friend or spouse when the rain is falling particularly hard. In those times, don't be afraid to reach out to a Christian counselor or therapist. As Pastors, it is not uncommon for us to refer people to get counselling during particularly difficult times in their lives and sometimes we need to take our own advice. It is much better to reach out for help than to continually struggle without improvement.
Rain will come, but Praise the Lord that He is with us in the midst of the rain. And in the words of that great Gaither song, and He will sustain us "till the storm passes by."