I’ve been a runner for decades, well, more like a jogger. I don’t run far, I don’t run fast, and I don’t run pretty, but it’s 3.1 miles every day.
One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t run well on an unstable surface.
Jogging in beach sand, rocky surfaces, or a potholed grass field doesn’t work for me. It destabilizes my footing, and I feel off-balance the whole time.
It makes me run in a tentative way.
In this COVID season, the same thing happens in leadership.
The sustained disruption in so much of the life and ministry of a local church has many leaders off-balance, and we can end up leading tentatively.
As leaders who live inside the continual process of productive change, we crave a certain degree of stability. That which we know, love and are accustomed to.
In many ways, that’s healthy and normal. It’s usually a good thing.
A good example of that is the stability we gain from healthy relationships.
Leaders need people in their lives that they can count on, connect with, and share life with in a personal and in-person way. These human connections are vital.
With social distancing, zoom calls, and working from home that no longer has the consistent place it once did.
The lack of ability to gather or fully gather in your building contributes to the destabilizing disruption.
Many church leaders say they actually experience guilt because they think they need to be at church all day, but no one is there. That disruption is destabilizing.
4 ways to bring stability and strength during disruption:
1) Understand that stability is not always your ally.
I’ve given an example of a healthy kind of stability, but there is also an unhealthy desire for stability that makes you seek comfort and become resistant to change.
Comfort over personal and organizational growth is a dangerous temptation. The pursuit of comfort is the signal of surrender.
John Maxwell calls it the “comfort zone,” and we need to run from it.
We all want COVID to be over but staying in the game is vital. Pressing forward, even with all the uncertainties, is essential. Keep growing.
If you find your solace and stability in comfort, you will be tempted to resist change because change is also a disrupter, and often a good one. It’s always better to initiate productive change than settle for unproductive comfort.
The test is simple enough. Are you moving forward?
Your speed of progress is not important, simply, are you forward-thinking and are you moving forward? Setbacks that make you take two steps back are not an issue, that’s life, but are you pressing forward?
2) Embrace a church planter’s disposition.
I love church planters.
They are “whatever it takes” kind of leaders.
I’m not saying that only church planters have zeal and drive, not at all, but I’ve never met a church planter in the early stages who is unwilling to pay the price and thrilled to get to do it.
We are all in a whatever it takes season.
COVID-19 is a once in a lifetime nightmare, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see what God wants to do in and through His church.
We need to be able to let go, or embrace, whatever is necessary.
It may be in the end that God didn’t ask us to change the church as we know it that much. It may look more like innovations and improvements to what we know. Perhaps the change He wants is more inside us.
Either way, we need to embrace “whatever it takes.’
This calls out the servant-spirit in each of us. That’s where leadership starts, a willingness to serve in any way that advances the mission.
3) When outward stability is gone, find it inside.
In both business and church, there is very little that feels stable, and where it does, it’s not guaranteed.
This is not a “doom and gloom” perspective; in fact, I’m very hopeful. It’s merely an observation of how current culture is operating.
So much has changed, continues to change, and we are not yet sure where it will land.
In times like these, it’s best to find true stability within yourself.
The kind of stability that finds its foundation in Christ and is not shaken by what’s going on around you.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, it’s still disruptive, but genuine peace can be found if our faith becomes the foundation of our inner stability.
A great approach to spiritually-based stability and strength is to focus on the evidence of the Holy Spirit within you.
One by one, cultivate the maturing of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control within you.
In my personal prayer life, I’ve been praying one or two specific “fruit” over each family member and others close to me. It’s powerful to watch what God does!
4) Remember your calling.
A tremendous source of stability and strength in a time of disruption is your specific call to ministry. Remember it in detail.
Recall or even write down what God said in as much detail as you can. Remember what you felt. Reflect on why it was clear and compelling enough for you to give your life to it.
Your divine purpose is an incredibly powerful force within you, and it’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of it during prolonged stress, pressure, and disruption.
Don’t lose sight of the purpose God designed within you. It will sustain you through any difficulty life can throw at you.
If you are not feeling stressed or wishing your life and leadership had greater stability, this exercise will only fuel you even deeper and allow your effectiveness to be stronger.
The reason is gratitude.
When you are sincerely in touch with all God has placed within you and designed for you to do, gratitude is the natural response. And gratitude is a powerful motivator.
My call to ministry was crystal clear.
It was not in a moment, it happened over a length of time, and God used very specific people and circumstances to unfold it as I was ready to receive it.
But it has kept me going for some thirty-nine years and counting. I’m still as fired up today as back then.
I pray the same is true for you.