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How are you doing today? As you hold the mission of the church before your congregation, how are you leading, this week, through this pandemic, differing political views, and understanding racism?

Although you might not think you are, you are leading with distinction.  No one has ever had to navigate such uncertainty in our lifetime, and you are doing it every day.

Recent research conducted by Harvard University found that when leaders focus on building relationships, they create conditions that lead to higher levels of commitment as well as increased accountability, hope, and satisfaction.

Giving Of Yourself

Albert Einstein wrote, “From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other, above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” 

Einstein’s quote sums up the nature of leadership today. Your leadership is not defined by what position you hold or what you might achieve, but by what you give of yourself to help others evolve and grow.

Do You Have These Skills?

As a follower of Jesus, you are being faithful in your leadership as you work for the good of the people entrusted to your care. You are being an impactful leader as you help the people around you become more who God has created them to be. You are changing the world as you lead with love and grace and assist others to do the same. 

Effective Leaders have made a shift from “administering” procedures to ministering to people. They are skilled at building and maintaining relationships. They are:   

1. Self-aware

Self-awareness is not only knowing your strengths and weaknesses but is also knowing the impact that your behavior has on others. For example, let’s say you enjoy hands-on involvement with people entrusted to your care. To be self-aware means you would also realize that your hands-on style might frustrate people who have been given responsibility for certain areas of ministry.  Your behavior creates the appearance that you don’t trust or appreciate them or value their work. By considering your actions, you can adjust how you relate to the people around you. 

So if you are going to be an effective leader, you will need to take a step back to consider the realities and challenges of the people around you and focus upon their strengths and skills as you understand and improve your own. That is why self-awareness and understanding are essential in building healthy relationships. 

2. Willing to delegate important tasks and decision making

Delegating helps to build experience and confidence in others. It also forces you to give honest, consistent feedback and to motivate and reward people for their work. With that in mind, it is important to know the strengths of the people with whom you are working. 

Effective leadership is not about overcoming weaknesses but is building upon the strengths of the people with whom you are working. True delegation is centered in knowing what strengthens the whole. This is where building relationships is important. You discover what excites people and you give them responsibility where they can and will fully invest themselves. It is in and through your relationships that you connect people to what truly makes a difference in the world. 

3. Good interpersonal skills

Effective leaders are able to negotiate and handle problems without alienating others. This requires understanding others’ perspectives and needs. You are able to develop a rapport with all kinds of people.  

Have you ever known a school principal who is equally comfortable with students, parents, teaching staff, and school board? If so, you have seen interpersonal skills at their best. Here is where healthy relationships help you grow and mature as a leader.  As you interact with each individual and group, you are sharpening your skills as a leader. 

4. Collaborative in style

Effective leaders use listening skills and communication to involve others, build consensus, and influence decisions. It is easy to focus upon what you want to accomplish or what matters most to you. It is easy to fall into “I can do this better myself.” This often leads to using people as a means to an end rather than helping them become who God created them to be. 

This is where healthy relationships help you understand what people hope to accomplish and what makes them feel as if they are truly making a difference. This is where you help people connect with the mission and invest themselves in it. On the surface, being an autocratic leader seems to bring greater results. But over time, the leader who values relationships and is collaborative builds support and can accomplish more. 

5. Effective at receiving and giving feedback

Effective feedback is one of the best ways leaders can improve their relationship skills. Feedback lets people know how they’re doing, reinforces goals, and encourages engagement. When giving feedback, remember to be clear is to be kind. Make sure to focus on a single message, be specific, and sensitive. Judge the behavior, not the person.

When receiving feedback, remember to risk vulnerability. An effective leader will not only receive the feedback but will engage the people around her/him to incorporate appropriate changes. Being good at relationships isn’t a personality trait. It does not depend upon whether you are an extrovert, outgoing and good at conversation. A good leader listens and is open to becoming who God has created him/her to be. Even introverts can do that.   

Adapt and Evolve

We are living in a divisive world. Whether it is differing political views, theological debates, or just the way people were raised, our world is divided like no other time in recent history. Your effectiveness is no longer dependent upon whether you are relevant, use technology, or meet in the sanctuary. Your effectiveness is in your ability to adapt, evolve, and function in today’s complex and interconnected environment. 

Your Next Step

So, let me ask you to take a few minutes to reflect upon the questions below. This is for you and for your growth. After you have completed the questions, consider meeting with one or two trusted friends to discuss your answers.  Again, this is for you and for your becoming the leader God has created you to be. 

Think about one or two significant relationships in your life.

Get a face in your mind and a name on your lips.

  • How do these relationships inform and/or shape your life?
  • What role does self-awareness play?
  • How do you listen and communicate within these relationships?
  • What do you feel when people offer feedback?
  • Now, think of one person with whom you work/associate but have no relationship.
    • Get a face in your mind and a name on your lips.
  • How does this relationship inform and/or shape your life?
  • What role does self-awareness play?
  • How do you listen and communicate within this relationship?
  • What do you feel when this person offers feedback? 

Your Turn

Now, think of the people entrusted to your care. What is one thing you can and will do to become a more effective leader? 

There is no doubt about it, our churches and communities need effective leaders.  Leader who can develop, cultivate, nourish, and adapt the relationships needed to navigate the chaos and confusion of today and lead into a new future. 

If you need and want help, contact us at connect@transformingmission.org. Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are ready to assist you in becoming the leader God has created you to be.

How are you doing this week? Has anyone told you that you are doing a great job? Even though I can imagine that you don’t feel that you are, I want to assure you that God has not abandoned you.

The people entrusted to your love and care are looking to you for connection. Those with whom you live, work, and see from a distance on Zoom, or some other form of social media, are looking to you, as their leader, to keep them connected to one another and to God.  

Please understand, I’m not trying to put more on you.  I am stating a fact.  You were created to lead through an unprecedented worldwide health crisis. 

Navigating Uncharted Territory

With no warning, you have altered the way you do just about everything. You have watched more than one black man be murdered in the street. You have learned of levels of racism that you never dreamed afflicted your family, your friendships, or your leadership. As you have tried to make sense of it all, you have done it without a single hug or needed affirmation.  

Although you hear me say that you were created to lead in such a time as this, you don’t feel equipped for this. You feel overmatched and overwhelmed. And at best, you feel disconnected from the community that has shaped, formed, and affirmed your identity. 

From where I stand, I think you have done a fantastic job navigating uncharted territories. As you have met the challenge, you have become who God created you to be. I want to affirm your leadership by reminding you, that as a follower of Jesus, your leadership is rooted in your relationship to God and to the people entrusted to your care. 

Jesus’ Teaching

From the perspective of Matthew, the first followers of Jesus were to teach others to obey everything Jesus had taught them (Matthew 28:20) with the assurance that Jesus would be with them. The question is “What had they been taught?” 

From Matthew’s perspective, God sent Jesus to teach us how to live before God or how to live a holy life.  For Matthew, at the heart of holy or righteous living was relationship. The words “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” is what Matthew wants us to know about living in relationship with all the people around us. Being in relationship with God and with one another is what it means to be a Jesus follower.  Being in relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your care is the foundation of effective leadership. 

5 Reminders about Effective Leadership

Let’s think of it this way. Effective leadership is rooted in: 

1. Healthy relationships

Whether with family, friends, strangers, or enemies, you have been taught to be proactive in how you treat others.  You act on behalf of others not because they have acted on your behalf but because loving others is who we are as a Jesus follower.

2. Self-respect

Having respect for yourself in such a way that you are a person of your word.  It means that you are integrated in your living, that what you are living on the outside in your relationships grows from the convictions of your inner life. 

3. Seeking first the kingdom of God.

Being self-aware and keeping all aspects of life in a healthy perspective.  

4. Caring for others in such a way that you are caring for Jesus himself. 

You are growing to the point that caring for others becomes so natural that you don’t even know that you are caring for Jesus.  You lead with care, not to become holy, but because you are holy. 

5. Being proactive in forgiveness. 

Relationships are so important; your leadership is about investing your life in the people around to the point that broken relationships are restored and become productive.    

Being the Leader You Were Created to Be

Jesus says “to obey” the things you have been taught. In other words, it is easy to talk about effective leadership, but it is not easy to be the leader you were created to be. There are times that you are vulnerable and you step out in faith to live out your purpose. You become who God created you to be as you practice your faith.  

Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary, Oswald Goulter, who served in China in the 1940’s. An agricultural missionary, he taught people to raise their own food as he loved and cared for their families. When the Communists came to China, they forced him to leave. So, his supporters in the United States wired him money for a ticket home.  

His journey home took him to India. While he was there, he discovered there were Jews living in barn lofts, attics, and sheds throughout the city. They were there because India was one of the few countries that welcomed Jews after Hitler expelled them from Europe.

Goulter was glad to see them. It was Christmas time and he visited them in the barn lofts, attics, and sheds saying, “Merry Christmas!” They said, “But we are Jews.”

“Oh, I know, but Merry Christmas anyway. What would you like for Christmas?” They said, “But we are Jews.”

He said, “Oh, I know. But is there anything you want for Christmas?” 

Several of them thought about it and said, “It has been years since we have had German pastries.”

Goulter went all over the city and found a shop that sold German pastries. He cashed in his ticket to the United States and bought boxes of pastries. Then he delivered them to the Jews in the barn lofts, attics and sheds. Handing them out, he said, “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!”

Years later, that story was told in a gathering where Goulter was present. After the story was told, one young preacher in the back of the room stood and asked, “Dr. Goulter, did you really do that?” 

Goulter, a little taken back said, “Yes. Yes, I did.”  

The young preacher said, “I can’t believe you did that.”

Dr. Goulter asked, “Did I do something wrong?” 

The young preacher said, “Those people aren’t Christians. They don’t even believe in Jesus!” 

Dr. Goulter responded, “But I do!” 

The effectiveness of your leadership is seen in your faithfulness to your relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your love and care. 

You might not feel equipped. Maybe you feel overmatched and overwhelmed. You might even feel disconnected from the community that has shaped, formed, and affirmed your identity. But the good news is, you are not alone.  Jesus is with you as you lead into and through the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty. 

Your Next Step

So, here is what I want you do:

  • Give God thanks for the opportunity to live and work in this time of chaos and confusion.
  • Confess your need for relationship with God and with the people entrusted to your care.
  • Place the people, situations, and circumstances into God’s hands.
  • Ask God to use you as an instrument of peace and love. 

O God, thank you for the opportunity to live and work at this time in history. I confess that I do not know what to do. But, I do know I need you and I need the people you have given me to love and to serve. I place my relationships, the church, and the people around me into your hands. I pray that you will use me as an instrument of your peace and love. By your grace, I offer myself to you in the name of Jesus.  Amen. 

Let me say it again, from where I stand, you are doing a fantastic job navigating uncharted territories. You are growing into the person and leader God has created you to be. Remember, you are not alone. As a follower of Jesus, lead on.  We need you to lead us now more than ever before. 

We are living in a time of enormous change. Almost daily we experience the anxiety of the ground moving under our feet. When the foundation upon which we have been living begins to shift, our anxiety levels intensify.  

When you are driven by anxiety, you see the world differently.  You begin to make your decisions based upon the fear of scarcity and to focus on problems and shortages rather than possibilities and abundance. As a leader, it is during such anxiety you need the courage to stay focused and to lead the people entrusted to your care.    

Stability

During times like this, one of the qualities people want in a leader is stability. According to a recent Gallup survey of 10,000 followers, words like strength, support, and peace were used to describe what people needed and wanted from their leaders. The survey revealed that people are looking for leaders who provide stability.   

It is during times of uncertainty, that you can be the leader that makes the world better. People want and need leaders of stable influence to navigate the unknowns of our changing communities and churches. Whether you believe it or not, your leadership makes the world a better place.   

7 Characteristics of Leaders Who Provide Stability

Trusted

You model integrity and consistency. You are capable and competent while leading with confidence and humility.  Further, you are focused and leave no doubt in the minds of followers as to what matters, and what will and will not be tolerated.

Relational

You are truthful about who you are, which makes you vulnerable. You are honest about your ability, which makes you authentic. Because you are both vulnerable and authentic you are able to develop healthy relationships. It is through your relationships that you are able to encourage, support, and inspire the people entrusted to your care.

Balanced

You are rational in your thinking and decision making. During uncertainty, you carefully listen to the people around you and take what is said into consideration. You lead because of who you are and not because of the anxiety of the moment or the opinions of the people filled with anxiety. Because your authenticity and trustworthiness grow out of your inner life, people have no doubt what motivates your decision-making. They trust you and the direction in which you are leading.

Compassionate and Caring

You understand your effectiveness is rooted in the well-being of the people you lead. Further, you listen to understand. You are empathetic and compassionate in your behavior. When people know you care, you help create a sense of trust and stability.

Mission-Focused

With the mission in mind, you lead with conviction. Because your leadership is grounded in the mission, you are clear regarding the direction you are leading. Because you are clear regarding your direction, you can focus upon the people entrusted to your care. Remember, especially in times of uncertainty, being “focused to a fault” is a good thing.  It is your focus that helps bring stability.   

Value-Driven

Clarity of values is fundamental in being a leader of stabilizing influence. Your values drive your actions. As a leader who is mission-focused and value-driven, you are decisive and clear when it comes to navigating the unknown and leading through confusion and chaos. Living your values in all aspects of your life, whether it be at home, at church, at work, or in the community, brings the stability people need from you as their leader.

Embracing the Future

The more you know and understand about the challenges of the future, the less there is to fear. Because you are looking toward a “new day” you are able to imagine and articulate exciting possibilities. You are not afraid to talk about the future. Being well grounded, you are able to gain wisdom and insight from past experiences and events.  Being trusted, you are able to inspire the people to see a better tomorrow. Because you have a compelling sense of what lies ahead, you are able to show people how they can and will be part of the future. 

Robert F Kennedy once said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can commit to a series of actions to make the world better, and the sum total of all those actions will write the history of our generation.” It is during times of uncertainty, that you have the opportunity to be the leader that makes the world better.

Being a Leader with a Stabilizing Influence

Are you ready to be the leader you have been created to be? Do you want people to trust you to lead them into the future? Do you want to make the world a better place? Of course, you do. So, below is one way you can check yourself regarding being a leader of stabilizing influence. This is similar to becoming a leader people can trust. Just know upfront, this will not be easy.

  1. Choose five people with whom you live, work, or play. These five people need to be people who will give you honest feedback.
  2. Have them answer these questions for you:
    • Can you depend upon what I say to be true?
    • Do you…
      • experience me as being authentic?
      • perceive that I listen for understanding?  
      • experience me as being caring and compassionate when under pressure?
    • Knowing what you know about me, are you able to honest with me?
  1. Make time to have a conversation with each of the five persons using #2 as your subject.
  2. After your initial feedback conversation, ask each person to give you feedback over the next 6 weeks as you focus upon becoming the leader with stability.   

During a time of rapid change, people need the assurance of stability. They are looking for leaders to be a stabilizing influence. As a leader, you can lead like never before. Now is the time to be the leader people need and want. Become the leader you want to follow.

Leadership is about inspiring and empowering people to become who they were created to be.  It is about relating and connecting in such a way that the world is impacted and changed for good. Although there will always be opinions about the characteristics of effective leadership, there is a specific characteristic that people want from you as their leader.  

In a recent Gallup survey of 10,000 followers, words like caring, friendship, happiness, and love were used to describe what people needed and wanted from their leaders. In a word, people were looking for leaders with compassion.  They are looking for leaders, whether spiritual, political, corporate, or educational, to listen to them, to care for them, and to love them.  To lead with compassion means contributing to the happiness and well-being of the people entrusted to your care. It is more than “being nice.” It is an intentional action to nurture people to their full potential. As their leader, you develop authentic relationships for the purpose of helping people become who they were created to be. 

Effective, Compassionate Leadership Characteristics

With that in mind, you become a compassionate leader by practicing compassion. The most effective leaders are those who are: 

1. Focused on Others

They shift the focus off themselves and onto the people entrusted to their care. Compassionate leaders have a healthy self-awareness and don’t have to be the center of all attention or activities.  They understand that shifting from self to others is essential in developing leaders.

2. Developing Relationships

They have care and concern for all people and build upon that care and concern to develop relationships. They are genuinely interested in the people around them. Besides being aware of their own gifts and strengths, they know the gifts and strengths of the people they lead. Through the development of relationships, they create healthy environments of trust where everyone is supported, encouraged, and celebrated.   

3. Listening

The amount of time they listen to the people entrusted to their care is a sign of how important people are to them. They invite comments and encourage discussion. Listening helps develop an environment where people feel good about their work and contributions. When people feel good about themselves, they are more fully committed to participating and offering their best.  

4. Positive

The best way to empower and motivate others is by being a genuinely positive person. When leaders develop a positive attitude, have something positive to say, and create a positive atmosphere, then people feel comfortable, safe, and secure in communicating what needs to be communicated.

Investing their time. Time is one of the most precious and protected resources people have. Leaders know that time invested in the people around them will produce good fruit. When people feel they have a strong relationship with their leader because their leader is deeply invested in who they are, they are willing to offer their best.

5. People of Integrity

They walk their talk. They lead from within and inspire others through encouragement and empowerment. People don’t forget being treated with respect and dignity. Leaders who lead out of who they are making a greater impact on the world. They cultivate leaders by modeling the leadership needed.  

6. Grateful

There are lots of ways for leaders to show they care. They mentor, support, guide, and encourage. But when a leader expresses gratitude and recognition, people feel appreciated and are willing to offer more of themselves to impact the community and the world.

Your Turn

Leading with compassion is foundational to who you are as a leader. Although processes are important, compassionate leaders focus on people more than the processes.

Remember, compassionate leaders seek influence, not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. Compassionate leaders demonstrate hope. As you lead, continue to acknowledge and support the people around you to combine your collective efforts, strengths, skills, insights, passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to work together for the greater good.

Our world, our communities, and our churches need compassionate leaders. Your greatest success is to grow and develop the people entrusted to your care so that they make a difference in their families, their jobs, their communities, and their churches. Now is the time to step up and lead with compassion. 

Take a moment to think of the people entrusted to your care. What is one thing you can do to better the lives of the people around you? How will you show compassion this week? 

If you need and want help, contact us at connect@transformingmission.org, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are ready to assist you in becoming a compassionate leader.    

As our world changes, our churches struggle, and we face uncertainty and fear, people are looking for leaders who can make a positive impact upon their lives and in the community.  They are looking for inspiration that speaks to their needs.  They want and need a leader who instills hope for the future. 

In a recent Gallup survey of 10,000 followers, what surfaced as some of the top characteristics people needed from their leaders were direction, faith, and guidance. These words describe the outcomes of hope.  

At this point and time in history, people are tired of false promises, disillusioned with artificial relationships, and disheartened with the sensationalism of political positions and conflicting opinions.  They are looking for authenticity and integrity. In a word, they want and need hope.  And they are looking to you, as their leader, to provide it. 

What is Hope?

Hope means different things to different people. To some it has religious connotations. To others it’s a strong feeling that motivates them to do great things. Some people think of hope as wishful thinking where they wish for something but have no control over the outcome. Still others see hope as a genuine possibility of making dreams reality by reaching goals. When there is a clear vision and a defined direction, hope is more than wishful thinking. It is the driving force of being able to evaluate the current situation, navigate discouragement, adapt to new realities, and renew the vision of what can and will be.  Hope keeps you focused in the midst of the challenges. 

Hope is the one thing that lifts our spirits and keeps us going despite the difficulties we face. It looks beyond the hardships to a better and brighter world. It keeps us believing and expecting that out of today’s darkness, God’s light will shine brightly. Hope is seeing the future we can attain by moving forward and, when needed, adjusting and adapting to the changing landscape. The importance of hope cannot be overstated. 

As a hopeful leader, you are constantly in pursuit of what ought to be. You are holding before those entrusted to your care the picture of what’s next and empowering them to see beyond today’s challenges to tomorrow’s answers.

C. Richard Snyder, in his book Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths, defines hope as an emotional state accompanied by clear thoughts about what the future can be and how to get there”. He contends there are three main things that make up hopeful thinking:

  • Goals – Approaching life in a goal-oriented way,
  • Pathways – Finding different ways or pathways to achieve your goals,
  • Agency – Believing that you can use those different pathways to achieve your goals.

Are YOU a Hope-Filled Leader? 

Hope-filled leaders are:

1. Goal-Oriented

They always have the end in mind. They know their present situation and context, but don’t allow it to steal their joy. Hope-filled leaders are happy where they are but refuse to stay there. They are forward-thinking, inspiring, enthusiastic, and positive. They believe tomorrow holds great opportunities and motivates others to move toward those opportunities.

 2. Adaptable

Hope-filled leaders embrace change because they know change is the best path to their goal.  They are able to adapt to change because they know that change is the fastest path to growth and improvement. Leaders filled with hope are innovative and try new things at the risk of failing. They understand that failure is not final. In fact, it is required. They also know that courage is necessary to reach the goal, so they are willing to step out, to become vulnerable, and to risk change for the overall health of the people and institutions entrusted to their care.

3. Focused on people

They focus on the strengths and gifts of the people around them. They offer encouragement with care and compassion as they equip others to reach the goal. Because they are confident in where they are going and are openly inviting others on the path, they are able to partner with people, engaging their strengths and gifts, to live into the new opportunities and possibilities along the path.  

4. Able to Navigate the Challenges

They have their eyes upon the goal.  It is the goal that moves them forward.  They know where they are going and are able to navigate the challenges to get there. They adapt to unexpected changes, face the unanticipated obstacles, and depend upon the strengths and gifts of others to follow through and to reach the goal. Because they have built trust and credibility, they have what is needed to complete the journey and to reach the goal. 

We live in a time when people are looking for leaders who can make a positive impact. They are looking for inspiration that speaks to their needs.  They want and need a leader who instills hope for the future. 

Your Turn

Take a moment to think of the people entrusted to your care. What is one thing you can do today to instill hope in their lives? 

If and when you need and want help, contact us at transformingmission.org, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are ready to assist you in becoming a hope-filled leader. Hope is one characteristic every leader needs to be the leader people want to follow.

We want leaders whom we can trust. In a recent Gallup survey of 10,000 followers, what surfaced as the top characteristics people needed from their leaders were honesty, integrity, and respect.  These words describe the outcomes of strong relationships built on trust. 

We look for role models whose behavior we feel is worth emulating. Whether it is coaches, professors, co-workers, bosses, or pastors, we look for people we can trust to lead us through ordinary situations as well as times of learning, adventure, and uncertainty. We want leaders who take us seriously and who can adapt when everything is not ideal.

As a leader, you earn trust when you follow through on commitments. Then as trust grows, people feel more at ease in trusting you with bigger commitments and other areas of leadership. As you live out your trustworthiness, people learn to trust you.

Five Ways to Build Trust

Here are five ways you can build the trust people need from you as a leader.

1. Be dependable

Say what you mean and mean what you say. To increase trust within your relationships, it is absolutely necessary to follow through on what you say you can and will do.  Even with what seems small and simple, if people experience a lack of follow through, you are revealing that what you say cannot be trusted. So, follow through with what you say you will do. The truth is you are only as good as your word. 

You already know whether you follow through on your commitments like showing up on time or embellishing the truth. People will have difficulty trusting you if you can’t trust yourself. Trust gives birth to trust.

2. Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is an integral part of the trust-building process. Brené Brown writes, “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Vulnerability is the path to greater clarity in purpose and more meaningful relationships.

To be vulnerable, you need a healthy self-awareness in sharing your feelings and your experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.  It will be in risking vulnerability that you model for those who follow.

3. Be respectful

A basic level of respect is the common denominator in every trust relationship. The deeper and more intimate the relationship the more important your respect. If those who follow you feel you are condescending and not taking them seriously, you are undermining the trust you need to be a good leader.  

You must remember that every time you treat someone in a way that demeans them or violates that basic dignity, you harm your connection and make it more difficult for them to trust you.

4. Be generous

Extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others. Assume the best of others. Give them the benefit of the doubt. When you are generous with others, they will be generous with you. When in doubt, seek to understand and be slow to judge.

Remember, people can only act upon what they know. Don’t hold them responsible for what they don’t know. Brene Brown writes, “Our relationship is only trusting if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors and then check in with me.” Be generous. Assume people are doing the best they can with what they know. 

5. Be receptive

Relationships flourish when people feel relatively equal. Most people understand that relationships involve a balance between giving and taking. They also understand that most of us give more than we take. Trust grows out of the balance of give and take. When you don’t let others give, even with your best intentions, you deny them part of this balance. Be willing to give others the opportunity to live into their strengths and to share their gifts.  

When you develop this balance of giving and receiving, trusting what people have to offer, then you are creating an environment of trust where people feel safe, valued, and appreciated.

Take Action

Do you want to be a leader that people can trust? Do you want to be an honest, dependable, integrated, and respectful leader? Of course, you do. So, below is one way you can check yourself regarding being a trusted leader.

Just know up front, this will not be easy.

  1. Choose five people with whom you live, work, or play. These five people need to be people who will give you honest feedback.
  2. Have them answer these questions for you:
    • Can you depend upon what I say to be true?
    • Do I follow through with what I say I will do?
    • Do I treat people with respect?
    • Do I honor and value the strengths and gifts of others?
    • Knowing what you know about me, are you able to be honest with me?
  1. Make time to have a conversation with each of the five persons using the questions in #2 as your subject.
  2. After your initial feedback conversation, ask each person to give you feedback over the next 6 weeks as you focus upon becoming the leader people can trust.

Because trust is one characteristic followers look for in their leaders and because our world, our communities, and our churches are looking for leaders who can be trusted, now is the time to earn the trust people want from you as their leader. 

You were created for such a time as this. Become the leader people want to follow.  Become the leader you were created to be.   

How are you feeling this week? You have done well in adapting to the abrupt changes brought about by the pandemic. You have discovered new ways of communicating and connecting. Just with regular use, you are perfecting the use of technology as you step into what is being called “a new normal.” As you look at the calendar, it looks like there are just a few more days to go. 

You and I can adapt to just about any situation for a short period of time.  You “have to do what you have to do.”  But this virus does not pay attention to the calendar. Have you considered that this pandemic will have you living differently for an extended period of time? Do you have a backup plan? 

Always Have a Backup Plan

I have a friend who enjoys hiking and backpacking.  When he was younger, he hiked parts of the Appalachian trail, spending several days and nights at a time alone in, what I call, the wilderness. In a recent conversation, he told me some of the best advice he received regarding hiking and backpacking comes from an older hiker who said, “Always have a backup plan.” The older hiker talked about having a mindset that could get him through if things happened in the wilderness that was unexpected. The older hiker asked, “What if you had to be out there for an extended period of time?   

My friend took the hiker’s advice to heart. He formulated an outline, a backup plan, for such situations. In our conversation, he told me the outline had been helpful both practically and spiritually in the midst of our current situation.  

Wilderness Plans

This pandemic is our wilderness.  We are going to be in this wilderness period longer than what we have planned. What is your backup plan? Here is what my friend shared with me. 

Adapt

If unexpected circumstances come your way, you need to adapt quickly. It is not easy, but it is needed. Accept the reality of your situation and move from that point. Simply bemoaning the situation does nothing. Both trusting God to help you see things as they are and leaning on God for strength and direction are key.  

Again, you have done well in adapting to the changes. The situation has called for living and leading differently and you have risen to meet the challenges by adapting. 

Adopt

Knowing that the situation might continue longer than expected, you adopt a different way of living and approach each day for what it has to offer. Because your original situation has changed, different practices, perspectives, and principles will be called for. The sooner you adopt a new way of living, the sooner your mind, body, and spirit can move forward. Trusting God to show you the path and trusting what you are learning is essential in moving forward

Now is the time to adopt new procedures and to develop different systems to carry you through to the end of the pandemic.  What have you been doing that you need to continue?  Then consider, what have you put on hold that now needs to be implemented in a different way? What new practices, perspectives, and principles need to be communicated? The time has come to adopt new ways of living and leading. 

Adept

Then you work at becoming adept or skilled at living and leading in and through these changes. The new practices, perspectives, and principles are not temporary things to be tolerated. You must begin by developing abilities to function and live well under new conditions. Use the new situation and circumstance to grow in new ways. Again, you are trusting God to lead you as you are shaped and molded by God’s love in relationship to the people entrusted to your care.    

I know this pandemic is not a backpacking trip. Even as much as I wish it was, the reality is we are in this wilderness for an extended period of time. This perspective of adapt, adopt, and adept can assist you spiritually, physically, and mentally during these difficult days. 

Pause to Reflect

Take a moment now to reflect and then act on the following:

  1. Make a list of what you have adapted over the past two months.  Include how you have been living, working, leading, worshipping, etc. Once you have made your list, give God thanks for the ability to adapt during a difficult situation.
  2. Now make a list of the practices, procedures, and principles that you think, and feel are the things you need to adopt or incorporate into your living and leading for an extended period of time. Consider how you are connecting and communicating with family, friends, and the people entrusted to your care. What needs to be adopted for worship, bible study, and pastoral care? Once you have made your list, ask God to give you insight and wisdom to lead in through this crisis.
  3. Now make a list of what skills you need to learn and to sharpen to live and lead through this time of crisis. You know what you know and what you need to learn. Model for the people around you ways in which you are stepping into a new reality. Ask God to give your wisdom and strength for stepping out and learning new ways.
  4. What one behavior will you focus upon changing or sharpening this week? When you have decided, call a trusted friend or colleague to journey with you as you become more adept at leading during this time.  You were created to lead during this time.  You are not here by accident.  Now is the time to step up and be the leader God has created you to be.  What one behavior will you focus upon this week? 

You and I can adapt to just about any situation for a short period of time.  Knowing our current situation, the time has come to meet the challenges of living and leading differently for an extended period of time. Wherever this journey leads, trust God and lean into God’s new future. God has called and equipped you for this time. So, what is your backup plan?