The Great Quarantine of 2020, as I like to call it, has been something that has affected the daily lives of most everyone around the globe. Whether the change is as simple as just learning techniques of “social distancing”, or as drastic and having to file for unemployment assistance on weekly basis, I think it would be fair to say that most everyone has been affected by the pandemic COVID-19.
For me, the change has been quite negligible. I pastor a small rural church just outside of Wellsville, Missouri. We live right next to the church, and social distancing is something we all do well out here, as many of us live a good distance a part. For reference, the three closest Walmart locations are all approximately 40 or so minutes away, all in different directions. My wife and I have four children, all eleven and under, and the school closures haven’t been a big thing, as we already homeschool our two oldest. Our third child goes to the local public school, and our youngest to daycare twice a week. So, they are at home full-time now, but, once again, not a big change. The biggest change is that my wife is home full time for the time being, as she worked as a paraeducator at the local school. My wife being home full time is a blessing! We have worked jobs where we have worked side-by-side, so having her home is not only easy, but a wonderful experience!
What I Am Learning
This leads to the biggest thing that I have learned, so far, in this time of social isolation. (Wait, did I mention my wife and I are both introverts?) What I have learned can really be traced back to my seminary days. There was a point where I was going through a difficult time, and one of my professors, Dr. Blake Hearson, from the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told me that I should never sacrifice family time for a grade. In that same vein, just because we are all at home, does not mean that we will automatically have more family time. And just because my wife is home full time, does not necessarily mean I need or deserve more “Pastor” time. While yes, it does sometimes, happen, I must make sure that it is not as I sacrifice this precious extra time I have with my family. Right now, a couple weeks in, I have realized I’d rather just stay up late working on my sermon than doing it while my kids are awake (though sometimes that still happens).
I have realized that Pandemic Pastoring is something new to everyone under the sun, and that some aspects of it take creativity and a bit more time (daily videos, editing, etc.), but I, as a pastor, must make pastoring my family through this difficult time a priority. I must remember the words of Jonathan Edwards, “Every Christian family out to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules.” First and foremost, I must pastor my family. I know that I don’t do it perfectly, and probably not well at times, but there is a reason that taking care of my family, managing my family, is one of the requirements of being an elder!
What Am I Doing?
So, what have I been learning? Not to take my family for granted. What have I been doing? Along with the “normal” pastoral things, I am doing my best to intentionally spend way more time with my kids (I had fun spraying them all with water from the hose last night). Helping my daughter with homework. My son with a video game. I’ve even painted fingernails (though I have yet to have mine painted!) Having fun as a family hasn’t been so available as it is now. Praise the Lord!
What Will I Say?
So, in years to come when someone asks me what I learned and what I did during The Great Quarantine of 2020, I will tell them what I have written here, and one more thing: God, through great tribulation in uncertain times helped me redeem the time with Him, with my family, with my church. Glory to God!
 Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), ccxlviii.