Charles Stone on the Church Leader’s Brain in the Coronavirus Crisis: 5 Tips to Keep Your Brain Humming

Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of five books including Holy Noticing: The Bible, Your Brain, and the Mindful Space Between Moments (Moody Press, 2019). His sixth book published with Equip Press, is Every Pastor’s First 180 Days: How to start and stay strong in a new church job.


Church leaders today are scrambling to find creative, innovative, and workable strategies, plans, and ideas to minister in our Covid crisis. I appreciate the plethora of blogs, podcasts, video-casts, and seminars offered to help us respond well. However, there is a fundamental process that precedes 100% of all ideas.

And what is that process? Thinking.

Thinking precedes leadership, outreach, preaching, and pretty much everything. And clear thinking precedes good leadership…and all the rest.

In fact, the word mind (which is where thinking happens) appears over 160 times in Scripture. It was one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite words and he admonishes us to ‘think’ in certain ways (Phil. 4.8).

So in this age that requires great ideas and great leadership, how can we foster good thinking?

Here are five suggestions to help keep your mind clear, focused, and working at its best, given the circumstances.

1. Recognize that brain fog is normal. Realize that as things change hour to hour, we will sometimes feel that we are in a brain fog, finding it difficult to focus and concentrate. This is normal because the covid crisis uncertainties incite our fight-flight centers (the limbic system) that in turn dampen the ability for our brain’s CEO (the pre-frontal cortex) to think most effectively. This is normal. You are not losing your mind. When this happens, don’t get frustrated at yourself because when you do, you engage your fight-flight center all the more and clear thinking gets further diminished.

2. Build in regular breaks. Take a few minutes break every hour or so. When we use our brain, it uses energy. But over time, that energy gets depleted and we can’t focus as well and our willpower gets depleted. It’s called ego depletion. That is, mental energy and willpower is a limited resource. Taking breaks can refresh your brain.  I use an app called Time Out (I have no ties to this company) on my computer. I set it so that every hour it slowly dims my screen for three minutes. During those three minutes I do a short mindfulness exercise by closing my eyes and taking slow deep breaths. This is proven to refresh your brain.

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Source: Church Leaders