Dear Church Leader,
As we enter the final weeks of summer and prepare for the unknown of fall, there is an often-ignored leadership competency that is vital in this season. It is the unappreciated ability to “keep calm and lead on.”
We are about to approach the most volatile of ministry seasons. Last year was difficult with lockdowns and restrictions but this year will be uniquely challenging with variants, increased restrictions, amplified polarization, unknown post-pandemic engagement/attendance patterns, and an overall fatigue in everyone, everywhere.
This bitter cocktail of uncertainly and weariness has created a reflux of anxiety and a tendency towards either willful ignorance or fear-filled reaction. In seasons like this, a crucial leadership competency is the ability to lead humbly, calmly, and steadily with thoughtful deliberate action.
In every nautical adventure movie, there is a climactic scene where the ship is on a catastrophic trajectory (causing great anxiety and fear in the crew) and an abrupt maneuver is needed to avoid calamity (a torpedo is inbound, or a collision is imminent). In these scenes, the crew is frantic and wanting to impulsively act but the captain knows it is not the right time. Decisive action is needed but if the action happens too early or if the wrong action is taken, the ship will be in great peril.
Calm, steady, and humble leadership is needed in times like this. If you lead with anxiety and fear, you will react rather than respond. If you lead with prideful arrogance, you will miss important information and make poor impulsive decisions. Instead, keep calm and lead on.
As you desire to calmly lead in this season, here are three ways to do so from 1 Peter 5:1-11.
First, be humble and honest. It is healthy to be appropriately transparent with your team about the uncertainty ahead. Lead your team not from your uncertainty but from your humility, casting ALL your cares on God. Lead with faith over fear. Faith doesn’t blind us to the obstacles or challenges; rather, it changes the focal point. Faith acknowledges the uncertainty while simultaneously focusing our attention on Jesus and His sovereignty.
Second, be alert and of sober mind. As a church leader, you will be tempted to act based on how you feel and sense things to be. Beware the danger of uncalibrated perceptions. In this season, all the feedback signals and effectiveness gauges that we grew accustomed to using and trusting have been disrupted. As a result, you can’t fully trust your gauges. How you sense things are may not be an accurate representation of reality.
Finally, be reminded that Jesus is on His eternal glorious throne. Jesus is building His Church (even if we can’t see it, feel it, or quantify it), and He (the Chief Shepherd) will lead us through. The fall season ahead will be uniquely difficult, but we can have hope because Jesus is with us and leading us forward!
Keep calm and lead on.