These are uncommon days when fear can wear down even the most courageous, positive, and level-headed leaders. More than ever, we need people who are leading from faith.
The constant bombarding of messages with looming news is exhausting to absorb, and there is no way to escape it.
And candidly, we should not escape it. COVID-19 is a reality, and we have the opportunity to lead our families and congregations through it with grace and poise.
This isn’t our time to turtle up, pull back, and hunker down. It’s our time to stand up, be strong, and shine brightly in the darkness.
Sunday, March 15, may have been the lowest physical attendance in thousands of churches and in the U.S overall in decades. However, it was also one of the greatest Sundays ever to communicate a message of faith and hope.
In fact, the stories of online services have been very encouraging!
Leaders are concerned about losing momentum for physical attendance in a culture that already attends church irregularly at best. But fear is the worst approach.
Acknowledging the reality is needed, but then asking the question, “How might God want us to use this for His glory and the good of the Church?’ is a better way to address the situation.
Rather than leading from faith, leading from fear, even a quiet, subtle fear, drains you of energy, and discourages your soul.
Leading from fear results in:
1) Leading defensively.
The result of leading from a defensive position is trying to protect what remains good rather than helping solve the problem, and thereby taking new and positive territory.
It’s impossible to completely avoid some defensive leadership because whatever the situation may be, it often changes rapidly. In the case of the Coronavirus, it changes at lightning speed.
The goal is to do everything you can to get out in front.
2) Leading reactively.
Leading reactively is a sister to leading defensively.
The difference is that reactive leadership is often hasty due to pressure, lacking data, and being unprepared. The result is poor decisions.
The remedy is to slow down just a little. We can’t be indecisive in crisis, but sometimes an hour or two makes all the difference between a poor, average, or good decision.
3) Leading thoughtlessly.
You can see the connectedness in all three results of leading from fear.
When insecurity gets added to the mix, reactive and defensive culminates in leading thoughtlessly. Here’s what I mean by that.
You absorb so many voices, and that combined with pressure from the need to move quickly is a recipe for mistakes.
For example, this might cause you to choose a course of action because the big church down the street did it, rather than also doing the hard work of thinking your own thoughts in the matter.
The more you gain wise counsel and also think through the problem for yourself, the better and more confident leader you become.
We don’t know the timeline for this difficult season of panic, fear, and worry. But the Church is always at its best under pressure when we focus on others.
That requires faith and fortitude.