Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders 3 Huge Ways I Whiffed on the Pandemic

3 Huge Ways I Whiffed on the Pandemic

the pandemic

Trial is often another word for opportunity. We are tried to find out what we are made of. We may be revealed to be made of wood, hay, stubble, or pure gold. Going through a trial like the pandemic revealed the church in the United States. It also revealed me and it turns out I’m mostly made of soggy fried chicken and stale coffee.

2020 was an opportunity to show my community what I was made of. It was an opportunity to be a hero of the faith. Instead, I whiffed in 3 areas.

1. I overestimated my adaptability and the adaptability of others.

In March of 2020, like so many others, I began working remotely. Or more accurately, I returned to remote work. Most of my career, I had been working from home and preferred it that way. My home office had a huge beautiful monitor, a desk I built myself, and most importantly of all, a private bathroom.

I had spent 10 years working from home before taking a corporate job and heading into an office every day. When the pandemic hit, we all went home. For me, it was a return to my comfort zone. For most others on my team it was a stressful and isolating new paradigm. It took me about 8 months to understand that.

My team was stressed. They had good attitudes, they continued to be productive, and our division grew and had an excellent year. But by the end of 2020, we were all stretched thin. For the first time in my life, I vacillated between anxiety and frustration. I had heartburn for the first time and it extended throughout the fall. And worst of all, I allowed my stress to isolate me. I didn’t want to be a complainer, but neither did I extend much grace to others who were going through the same thing. I thought I was going to thrive returning to working from home, instead I spent a year annoyed with the people who were most feeling isolated and stressed.

2. I gave into division.

Like many people in 2020, I had “OPINIONS” about politics. And my political “OPINIONS” affected my view of the church. I began 2020 by working on a meditation project with my small group, in an effort to be spiritually disciplined and focused on the kingdom of God. Flash forward a few months and I’m focused on Twitter which is nearly the opposite of the Kingdom of God and honestly one of the lesser social medias. I knew this was a bad idea, much in the same way that I know I should floss. Guess who spent too much time online and has poor gum health…yup, this guy.

It doesn’t have to be Twitter for some, it could be any social media, or the news, or even the people you hang out with. But many of us gave into division. I knew that division is a big sin (honestly, all sin is divisive). But here I was letting the world get me fired up when I could have been doing something better…like flossing.

3. I whiffed on loving my community.

This is a little embarrassing, but one of my biggest pandemic successes was the fact that I bought early on GameStop stock, and sold high. That kind of investing is almost always a bad idea because you have to really be lucky to time it right. However, in hindsight it always seems easy. The obvious opportunity during the greatest period of isolation in recent history was to build community with those who were most feeling anxious, stressed, angry, or isolated by the pandemic. I missed that opportunity.

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James Browning is the Pastor of Small Group Network Development and a staff member at Saddleback Church. He has over a decade of experience in marketing and digital evangelism.