Having led three churches and having led through three different significant disruptions, I know the challenges and the stresses that crisis can create for local churches. When multiple hurricane events in a single hurricane season caused massive disruption to both church and school ministries, our team had to figure out a way to lead through recovery while doing ministry within the crisis. Years later our team had to lead the church through a fire catastrophe that rendered a building unusable for ministry. In 2008-2009 our team lead a church through the financial crisis in a community where 25% of the home owners experienced foreclosures and home prices collapsed creating a financial crisis for the church. Make no mistake these were significant challenges, however, the current challenge is more of a combination of all 3 crisis occurring within a single event and it is not a regional event it is a global event.
Here is what you can be assured of: God is still on His throne, He has not changed, and His mission is still the same. He has even orchestrated events so that this crisis can be used to further His kingdom agenda if we will pursue Him and His desires. The crisis is even filled with potential. The crisis holds the possibility of recapturing our attention, refocusing us on what is important, and rethinking ministry beyond the crisis. I will write about these issues in the days to come. Today I want to Focus on YOU! You can’t lead through the challenge and you can’t be creative and passionate if you or your team are running on empty! You must take care of yourself and you must take care of your team.
When I faced my first crisis, a direct hit from a major hurricane, I thought once the hurricane passed, the crisis would be over. It was not! The crisis had only just begun. It was the hardest year of ministry I ever faced and it never seemed to end. I was not prepared for the toll it would take on me and the effects it would have on my team. During challenging times, wise and experienced leaders know self-care and team care are of upmost importance. If you or your team members become burned out, spent, or overwhelmed, you will not be able to be fully used by God and you will have little to give to those in need. Below you will find a few questions good leaders continually ask in the midst of the crisis.
Am I fostering my spiritual life through prayer, Bible reading and solitude? John 15 reminds us that we must abide in the vine if we are going to bear much fruit and if that fruit is going to remain. There is nothing more important as you face a crisis than remain “in Christ.” This will be the source of your personal peace and strength through the crisis.
Am I caring for my immediate family and closest friends? If the crisis becomes a family crisis, the focus will rightly shift from the ministry to the home. This will prevent the mission of the ministry from advancing. When it comes to caring for your family at home, use the “ounce of prevention rule.”
Am I taking time to be relationally recharged? Take time for people especially people who fuel your heart and mind. Don’t neglect phone calls from people you love. Stop to interact with people who encourage you. You don’t need all outflows and zero inflows.
Am I taking time to be alone to think? It is easy to get into a reaction mode. It is better to step back and posture yourself in a strategic mode. This does not have to take a long time, but it does require thoughtful consideration regarding the BIG issues. The ReThink resource is designed to help you do just this (https://corpusvitae.org/pdf/)
Am I turning off the world to gain a long-term perspective? In a crisis most leaders only think short-term. The crisis moment is one of the best times to think long-term. The crisis offers an opportunity to embrace changes that would have taken years to activate. But because the crisis necessitates it, the change can be made now.
Am I eating, sleeping, exercising, and drinking enough water? The emotional intensity of the crisis is hard to measure hourly or daily, only time will reveal the real toll it is taking. Paul may have born the marks of the gospel outwardly on his skin, but you are probably more likely to bear the marks inwardly through your blood pressure, heart rhythms, and mental health that can lead to health issues, depression and withdrawal. Caring for your physical body is essential for you to be present for the long-haul of the crisis.
Am I allowing others to speak into my life? You need to be talking to others who do what you do and hear from them the feelings they have, the thoughts they are thinking and the responses they are taking. You will discover you are not alone and you will learn many insightful ways to cope with the crisis and face the challenges before you. Some times you just need to verbalize to another human being what you are experiencing and experisnce the situation through their perspective.
Am I considering that one day in the future the crisis will be over? This too shall pass. You will one day look back on the current crisis with perspective and insights. It will be one of the biggest learning experiences you have ever had. Realize today, this crisis will not last forever. Say it out loud, “THIS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER!” Say it to your spouse, your kids, your leaders. “IT WILL NOT LAST FOREVER!” There don’t you feel better already knowing this will end?
Am I remembering that God is in charge and He ultimately will be the one who solves the crisis? This is a very freeing thought! I am not God. I can’t be God. I can’t do what only God can do. Isaiah 46.9-10 says, “I alone am God! There are no other gods; no one is like me. Think about what happened many years ago. 10 From the very beginning, I told what would happen long before it took place. I kept my word!
Visit the Corpus Website at http://www.corpusvitae.organd click the ReThink button to learn more.