The world is in an uproar. An unseen enemy, known as Covid-19, has brought our planet to its knees. World leadership is being tested. At VitalChurch, leadership in difficult times is our normal. So how do our interim pastors lead in times of crisis? The following are nine leadership principles that we hold to.
- Have an accurate assessment of reality and communicate it. No one is helped by pretending, or assuming, things are okay when they aren’t okay. No one is helped by making false promises of a quick fix. It defrauds those who actually believe the false promise, and embitters those who don’t. Be aware of the balance between overcommunication, which can be overwhelming, and under communication, which is unnerving. The wise leader intuits the difference.
- Tell the truth…period! Don’t lie. And don’t pretend you know what is going on when you really don’t know what’s going on. Leaders who regularly lie, fudge on the truth, or mislead out of ignorance will find it increasingly difficult to lead in times of crisis. When crisis hits, the line between civility and barbarity is thinner than most of us think. This is true even in churches.
- Communicate the truth tactfully and with integrity. In other words, be gracious in telling the truth and have the facts right. This demands that leaders prepare before meetings and honestly admit if they don’t know something. When communicating, be frank, direct, and to the point. This lowers anxiety and builds comradery.
- Maintain a non-anxious presence. Reactivity rarely helps. Leaders with a non-anxious presence instill a sense of calm into a toxic environment. Using appropriate self-deprecating humor may also help.
- Make hard decisions… even when people don’t like them, then stick with them. I’m not talking about being inflexible. But making a hard decision that is the right decision, then working “the decision” is a sign of good leadership.
- Think ahead of the curve. This demands proactivity not reactivity. This also demands innovation. What decisions have to be made now that won’t be implemented for six months, or even a year from now? This requires an openness to change.
- Avoid blaming or critiquing others publicly. Trashing others who are trying, in a different way or even in an ineffective way, to resolve the same problems never helps.
- Share the burden and the glory. Crisis brings out the best in others. When that comes to light, publicly highlight others’ successes. Sharing both the problems, and the successes, softens the load borne by the leader. Crisis is also a time when genuine leaders emerge.
- Consider the content of your heart. Anxiety and crisis are revelatory. The content of the heart is revealed. Jesus said it best, “For from … the heart of man comes [what is real]” (Mark 7:21-23). The beautiful thing about the gospel is that it changes the heart. Christian leaders can develop gospel-shaped hearts in the midst of a turbulent crisis by reminding themselves of Christ’s work, and its implications, on their behalf (cf. 2 Pet 1:5-9).
This may be the only time in history when the entire planet is united against a common enemy. The principles listed above are simple things Christian leaders can do to effectively navigate transition or crisis anytime, anywhere.
If you’d like to learn more about how VitalChurch Ministry can help you, your church leaders, or your pastors lead more effectively through any crisis, contact us. We’d be happy to talk with you and see how we can help.