During the COVID-19 global pandemic, there has been much news and conversation on what the “new normal” will look like, what will our lives look like after COVID-19. This discussion of the new normal has often conflicted with my mindset of going back to the old normal, the way things used to be; yet, I have found that there are things that God has taught us as a family and as a ministry that we don’t want to change as our “new normal.” The following are three major lessons that God taught us that despite whatever the future entails, we will always remember.
Be More Thankful for Family
It’s written in 1st Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this to the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
There are only two choices that we can make when we are in crisis; either we can complain and focus on the negative, which in the end only magnifies negative results. The other option is to focus on Jesus and give thanks in all circumstances. By doing that, we are able to magnify God’s will and advance his kingdom, regardless of our situation.
We have learned that no matter how tough things get, no matter how many things are going against us, and no matter how many obstacles stand before us, as long as we give thanks to Jesus and focus on him, he will always give us the solution to the problems around us.
Mentor More Leaders
First Corinthians 4:15-17, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”
Apostle Paul with teaching the church of Corrine that they have many teachers, but they do not have any imitators. These imitators are what Apostle Paul looked at as spiritual fathers or mothers, spiritual parents, in a sense. He then labeled Timothy as his faithful child of the Lord. He also called him his beloved, the same language that Jesus had towards his beloved disciple, John. This type of connection between a father and the child is the foundation of discipleship and developing leaders.
One thing that we learned during this new normal is that those that we spiritually adopt are those that more than often remain unshakable, no matter what is happening around us. Studies have shown that families that are in war that are together, have less long-term trauma, in comparison to children that are in broken families without their parents in a normal day to day circumstance. Meaning that family is one of the things that create an unshakable foundation.
Another thing we wish we did more was to understand the power of spiritual adoption as leaders and apply that to our day to day life more. If we were to scale it on how much we would do it more, we would give 70 to 80% more of our energy to spiritually adopting young leaders than we would to any other activity. We have found that during this global pandemic, the fruits that remained are the fruits that were spiritually adopted and matured. The fruits that didn’t remain were those that did not have a spiritual adoption.
This spiritual adoption doesn’t have to come through us or our ministry, they often come through the churches and the pastors or young leaders that are in different networks or different churches or organizations. Yet, the bottom line is still clear. Spiritual adoption, the way that Paul modeled it to Timothy and taught to his church plants is a normal that we should never lose.
Live from Rest
Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
In the Philippines, the nationwide military lockdown took place in less than 48 hours. Before we knew it, we weren’t able to go down to a different zip code, we weren’t able to bring our family out, we weren’t able to walk around on the streets; everything changed in less than a weekend. Until now, this is still our current circumstance.
We found ourselves constantly searching the news and asking friends on different updates of what changes will happen with the guidelines. In the Philippines, the guidelines changed through Facebook. We would have to be always on our Facebook checking to see what guidelines have changed. Some workers would believe that they’re going to have a job tomorrow and get ready to go to job but when they arrived at work, their job was shut down. These aren’t just local businesses. These can be conglomerate malls or established businesses that would change in less than a few hours.
Over a period of months, this created a lot of anxiety with our family and ministry and making decisions, planning for the future, trying to be strategic. Everything changed because of how quickly these lockdowns and guidelines would change in the country. Yet, when we prayed, the Lord always brought us back to this revelation to not worry about anything, but to first focus on the kingdom of God; that today has enough troubles on its own.
What we started doing was taking it day by day. We started looking at what is it that God wants us to do today and how can we maximize that? What is it that God’s given us to store today and how can we multiply that? Who has God placed in front of us and how can we love them the most? We found that no matter what, whether Plan A or Plan B or Plan C worked, those things would never change. If we always focused on loving those around us, stewarding what we have been given and multiplying God’s will with whatever we have, we’ve always found ourselves in a place where we can move forward in advancing God’s kingdom.
We learned that advancing God’s kingdom is not circumstantial, but it’s spiritual and faith-driven. We don’t have to worry about our circumstances in order to do God’s will. We just have to focus on God, have faith in what he teaches us, and believe that when we do it, we’ll be having an eternal impact.