June 15, 2019

Sarah Ciavarri, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America pastor, preached her first sermon after seminary 10 days after the terrorism attack on the United States on September 11. Her sermon was on resiliency. Resiliency has remained a central theme for her ministry and was the topic she brought to Missouri Conference pastors who were gathered for the coaching plus training in Columbia on May 6. 
 
Ciavarri encouraged the pastors that as coaches, they will guide other pastors toward taking steps that are life-giving and will shed light on their ministry. 
 
She looks to the shift in the 1970s from psychology as something to address severe disorders to positive psychology as a practice that can help everyone. 
 
“When we are kind to ourselves we do better work than when we beat ourselves up,” Ciavarri said. “I’m not talking about narcissism, which is ‘My needs are better than yours.’ I’m talking about, ‘You have needs, I have needs, let’s work with that.’” 
 
The workshop was very interactive. Clergy made lists on Post-Its, describing where personally they are just surviving, and where they are thriving, and then did the same thing for their congregations. 
 
Ciavarri quoted Dr. Bessel Van de Volk’s definition of resiliency: Resiliency is the ability of the imagination to project in the future a positive reality beyond the stresses of trauma. “It’s the ability to bounce back,” she said.