Speculations From the Sidelines

Though I had made a small amount of progress since getting a seemingly mild case of COVID-19 in January 2021, this June my long-covid recovery suddenly went a million miles backwards with no explanation. Here are some reflections from a pastor sidelined by significant, chronic health issues.

  1. It takes a village to pastor a church.
  2. The church and the Church are bigger than the pastor.
  3. It’s easier to connect the dots of big picture patterns from the sidelines. It’s a space to regroup and study.
  4. Being on the sidelines means letting go of control. A LOT of control.
  5. The life of the community doesn’t pause while the pastor is on the sidelines– for better or for worse. Not being able to simply be present as a pastor is something I grieve.
  6. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.
  7. The pastor getting sidelined is an opportunity for the rest of the congregation to step up and contribute according to their many spiritual gifts.
  8. That said, a long season of absent pastors gets old after a while and can feel like just treading water. The church should not revolve around the pastor, yet they’re still an important center of gravity—helping to hold the community in a coherent orbit.
  9. Sometimes being on the sidelines just plain sucks. It’s ok to feel that sometimes.
  10. In the already murky personal/professional boundaries of pastoring, getting sidelined in this way can muddy the water even more. That’s probably easier for the congregation to navigate than the pastor.
  11. As a COVID long-hauler who used to be able to pass as able-bodied in many situations, in some respects it’s a relief to be so publicly sidelined, even if it’s difficult.
  12. On my list of “things I didn’t learn in seminary” and “what my mentors and internships couldn’t prepare me for,” this takes the cake, hands down.

It’s incredibly humbling to feel so loved and accepted as post-covid Monica, by people who didn’t have the chance to meet pre-COVID Monica. Thank you!


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About the author

Monica Miller

In the lulls between medical appointments, these days Monica Miller is finding her vocal music training from college coming in clutch in ways she couldn’t have anticipated: rehabbing her voice and diaphragm back up to strength. She wouldn’t have chosen this path, but at least she’s equipped to navigate it. Onward toward healing!

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