Wow. What a wild last couple of days, right?
We finally have the first official week of the recommended COVID-19 quarantine behind us, and life feels like a blur right now. A brief scroll through social media or five minutes on any mainstream news outlet, and it quickly becomes too complicated to know which way is even up.
I’ll have to admit this is my first time leading in this particular scenario. I’ve been part of teams before where we had to navigate through some rather choppy waters, but nothing quite like this. After a week’s worth of praying, reading, and thinking, here are my thoughts in brief:
1) Leadership is hard.
I’ve been talking to pastors across the nation who are all asking the same questions and grappling with the same decisions. Do we cancel services or not? How do we keep our people connected? How do we project calm amid the chaos? What does this mean for the church financially?
Such decisions are far from easy. On the contrary, leaders agonize over these types of situations. Trying to find the balance between faith and works, believing for healing while trying to walk in wisdom – there are simply no hard and fast rules.
To add more stress to an already chaotic situation, pastors also have to deal with the critics who will oppose whatever decision they make. If you cancel, you’re a “wimp.” If you move forward, you don’t care if people get sick and die. Leadership is funny; what gets you an “Amen!” from one crowd will induce a “Crucify him!” from another crowd.
That’s why you must listen to all the information you can, get as much input and feedback as possible from reliable sources, pray, then obey God. Call the play and let the chips fall where they may.
2) Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
I’ve stood in awe all week long, watching church after church scramble to come up with last-minute solutions. Incredibly long hours, executed mainly by volunteer team members, has led to some outstandingly creative strategies for “doing” church in a crisis. The resiliency of believers who are committed to God and their church has been profoundly moving.
Going forward, the need for creative and nimble thinking will only grow. We will get this virus behind us to be sure, and life will return to normal. But as a church, this crisis has made us better. We’ve grown. Our leadership capacity has increased.
So, to all of you, I say, “JOB. WELL. DONE.”
3) Calm is contagious.
In a crisis, the leader is the one projecting a voice of calm. People look for leadership that neither under-reacts nor over-reacts. We need not downplay the significance of the situation, but also need not suggest this is the end of the human race as we know it.
It’s not a hoax, nor is it impending extinction. It’s a crisis, one that we can and will get through.
What lessons have you learned about leadership in the past week?