1 Bad Virus Can Cultivate 5 Good Virtues

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In reality, there is not much “good” about COVID-19. There is death, illness, financial ruin, and life as we have known it will never be the same.

But since “all things work together for good,” good can come from it…if we realize our heavenly great, good, and chief Shepherd Jesus Christ is still in charge.

Instead of this virus only hindering us, how might it really help us?

Are you seeing some of the good? I know I am.

I saw Resurrection Sunday 2020 like never before. Easter 2020 was like no other before. Empty buildings, sermons online, and millions of people hearing the good news of Christ’s resurrection and salvation by faith in Christ alone. Maybe even more so as the virus crisis generated more “seekers” for hope in a hopeless situation.

Could this possibly be the largest global outreach opportunity ever? Lots of pivoting going on, but all with God’s help. Even now, as some churches are opening up, they are keeping the technology they learned during the crisis in place as they return to face-to-face worship. Thus, extending the outreach potential!

It remains my prayer that the Holy Spirit and the follow up of the Church would help each one connect in a genuine and ongoing relationship with their Savior.

The big question is, how will we cultivate the good while we fight the bad during COVID-19?

We are still early in figuring out how to cultivate the good while dealing with the bad.

You may feel getting a grasp on the five good virtues may be a bit out of reach for you at this moment. Start with one, then go to two, and so on. It is not a sprint but a marathon, with or without a crisis. It is to be a way of life for us, not a check-off list. Go for it!

5 Good Virtues Each of Us Can Cultivate:

Virtues that boost endurance, resilience, and hope as a pastor and leader.

1. Charity

The heart of charity or generosity was core to the New Testament Church and is still alive and well today.

Meeting the needs of others is part of the good about who we are as human beings.
Even in our fallen nature, we intuitively know the right thing to do.

Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to do the right thing.

Big-heartedness is on the rise, with no strings attached, and everyone can be a part.

Perhaps you read about Tyler Perry buying groceries for thousands of seniors and at-risk individuals. He paid the bill at 29 Winn-Dixie locations in Louisiana and 44 Kroger grocery stores around the Atlanta area. Countless people in New Orleans and Atlanta were blessed, as you can imagine.

That was certainly on an ambitious scale, but so many others are doing similar things but for one person at a time.

    • Churches are stepping up big time to do all they can through benevolence.
    • Families are helping each other pay bills.
    • Neighbors are pitching in more now than before.

The heart and hands of people demonstrating charity are providing hope to many during this virus crisis.

2. Community

It seems like almost everywhere you see businesses and communities making statements like, we are all in this together.

Yes, relationships are best developed and cultivated in person, but we can still experience a sense of authentic connection through digital platforms.

In the last few months, I’ve enjoyed some of the most meaningful social media connections, facetime chats, and phone conversations that I can remember in a long time. Not only with those who live close to me about also those around the world! This includes personal reach-outs and ministry “meetings”.

When genuine community and unity increase, division and discord often decrease.

Things like division and judging still exist, but those who live in that world are not given as much credence.

As the saying goes, hurting people hurt people. We are more aware of why people are hurting now. This can cause us to be more understanding and gentler, yet not allowing the disruption of community to continue.

People are looking for ways to connect, and it’s not just in response to isolation. It’s a deeper recognition of our need for each other. Social distancing and safer-at-home “mandates” are revealing the need for deeper and healthier relationships.

When we travel through our days at dangerous speeds dominating our to-do lists filled with increasing tasks and decreasing relational connection, it’s possible to lose sight of what together means. It’s almost impossible to be together when we are always in motion.

We now have the opportunity to discover community in the most unique circumstances. Though it’s not easy with social distancing, we can still discover new ways for community to occur.

3. Clarity

While I enjoy my alone times with the Lord, I am not fond of being isolated from others any more than many of you are, but it’s teaching me some things.

Those who know me, know I keep a full schedule. Yet even now my schedule is (surprisingly) very full. However, it moves at a slower pace right now. That just means I’m not “blitzing” from one thing to the next. When I am in town, I’m not driving very much even though things are opening up. My transitions are more deliberate.

This new time and space allows me to focus better on what is truly important.

    • I am in my “study” or home-office (it is open and connected to our family room, dining room, and kitchen) putting me around my wife Carol much more often. I think she likes this.
    • My pastoral and Christian leader friends are trying to figure out how to serve their people in this crisis reminding me I am not alone and should be available to serve them as they serve others.
    • I can control my interruptions better and spend longer and more meaningful times with Jesus in listening to Him while reading and meditating on Scripture and communing with Him in prayer. These keep me centered on what matters to God.

I am sure you have stories like this too. None of these stories represent something we didn’t care about before, but they all bring clarity right now.

Clarity about what is important, about what matters. And here’s the “surprise” … Everything that matters, all that is important, in each single situation, is people.

There are no exceptions. It’s people. With Jesus, always has been and always will be…people!

Well, that’s not so much a surprise.

However, it can be life-changing if we intentionally do whatever it takes to continue to live out this truth that we’ve always known.

Yet it can be difficult. When we get to the other side of this virus crisis, and we will, what will we remember about what we have learned, and how will we live differently? Especially as it relates to people.

So, let me be clear, every task we can think of somehow relates to people. To remember it is about relationships, it clearly requires nothing more than slowing down, even just a little.

4. Creativity

Who can deny rising up incredibly during COVID-19 is creativity and ingenuity!

If you need a list to celebrate creativity and ingenuity here it is:

    • Researchers and scientists are putting their best minds and efforts into finding a cure or medicine to prevent its impact and spread. And they seem to be getting closer!
    • The production of creatively designed and effective home-made masks that help save lives. And new home-based businesses are on the rise!
    • One wedding was held at home with just immediate family, and everyone who would have attended drove by their house at an appointed time and honked. How cool was that?
    • The many creative ways high-school and college kids experienced their graduation ceremonies while socially distancing!
    • The unprecedented opportunities for the church to rise up in creativity to reach people for Jesus and help them mature in their faith.

There are so many possibilities for creativity and innovation, including but not limited to:

    • Family devotions online
    • Next-gen ministries online
    • New follow-up systems for guests and those who trust Christ as their personal Savior
    • Better streaming capabilities
    • More productive social media
    • New methods for leader meetings
    • Innovative ways for training leaders
    • and the list goes on.

Three good things about all this creativity in the church:

    1. Some of it will become a new way of doing things even after we get to go back to our church buildings and worship together again on a regular basis.
    2. We will remember we truly can do more than we think, and better than we imagined when the pressure is on!
    3. Our creative God never let us down in showing us what can be done by His grace and for His glory than ever before. The best is yet to come!
5. Commitment

Perhaps never since 911 have we seen such commitment and sacrifice by so many first responders and especially our health-care workers. They remain on the front lines and are risking their own safety and welfare for the lives of others. This humbles me.

Undoubtedly you know a doctor, nurse, or hospital staff member. And then there are those in the food industry and delivery people providing us access to essentials like food and other necessary items. Thousands of us are praying for them daily, asking God to protect them as they serve others.

You may not be called or equipped to serve on the front lines. But we can all do something, from prayer to making home-made masks to sending them meals.

It’s not just in the health and food industry; the economy also benefits by sacrifice. I read Delta Airlines announced that approximately 10,000 employees have voluntarily taken unpaid leave. This leave or furlough is a double-edged economic sword but clearly helps Delta get through the crisis. And there are countless other businesses whose owners paid their staff when their staff was told to stay home.

I pray your job is secure and even prosperous, but if you are employed, you may have the opportunity to help someone else.

This type of commitment is a deep thing to consider.

Commitment is not about performance, guilt, or a keeping score. It’s between you and God.

This may or not be your moment for sacrifice, just be attentive to God.

Each one of these virtues are found in the life of Jesus Christ. For those who have trusted Christ to be their Savior, we have His ability to not let one bad virus keep us from cultivating virtues in us that show our love for Him and for others!

As a pastor and leader let us model these virtues in our personal life and then help shepherd the way for those we lead and serve.

We are all in this together. Let us all grow in these and other virtues for the glory of Jesus Christ!

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Written by Stan Ponz
Dr. Stan Ponz is founder and president of Make It Clear Ministries (a national ministry that began in 1973 to help people take the Gospel and the Word of God into every person's world!). Stan also serves as President of Florida Bible College in Orlando, Florida and is married to his high school sweetheart Carol, who led him to the Lord in 1966. They live in the Orlando area.