How are you feeling?
You are six weeks into a stay at home order and you have done well at adjusting to this pandemic. You are learning to use social media for preaching and teaching, and you have been intentional in connecting with church members. You have even discovered new ways to connect with the community.
So, how are you feeling?
You might be feeling disappointed if you were expecting to be back to worship in the sanctuary by the first of May or feeling angry if you have been thinking that this stay at home order and no public worship is not fair. Then again, you might be feeling relieved because you have been fearful for your health and the health of your family. So, how are you feeling?
I admit that I have conflicting feelings. I have been grieving not being able to meet with you, who have been entrusted to my care, and with family and friends for whom I care. I am missing in-person smiles and facial expressions, as well as personal contact. On the other hand, I am adapting to the situation and circumstances in which we are living, with the hope that each of you will use your best feeling and thinking in navigating the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Our Current Reality
Here is what I know: The pandemic is with us for the next 12-18 months. The end will come only when there is a vaccine.
There are no easy 3 steps here or 5 steps there through this pandemic. For the moment, there is a protocol for living into the next days, weeks, and months ahead. It will include phases with each phase having its own set of rules and patterns to follow. There are no experts to call or conferences to be attended that will make this pandemic go away. We must trust those who are working, not only to develop a vaccine, but who are leading us in flattening the curve. We are all learning as we do. Pay attention to what comes next. There are not easy formulas or steps to end this pandemic.
Leading Through the Pandemic
As a leader, you must lead people through this pandemic. Even though you have never been here before, God has gifted you for this moment to lead through these days.
There is no strategic plan through this pandemic. That doesn’t mean you don’t plan or strategize how to navigate through what is coming. It does mean that the people you must be listening to are the people, (the public health officials, doctors, scientists, your bishop), who are discovering what is next as they go.
There will be other voices, each one important, but, as you know, we are living in the midst of great complexity. So as a leader, keep centered upon who you are, why you are doing what you are doing, and the people entrusted to your care.
Even though it may not seem this way, you have never had an opportunity like this before. So, here is what you do:
Know and Name Current Reality
Be realistic about the challenges and obstacles you face. The people who are following your lead need to know that you can be trusted because you are self-aware, competent, and honest.
You know what you are facing and the resources you have. Be transparent and caring. The temptation is to downplay the severity of the situation in hopes of keeping everyone together. You will have more respect as a leader if you care for the truth as you care for the people.
Know Yourself and Your Strengths and Gifts
Know when to be vulnerable and when to empathize. As the leader you are helping people navigate the challenges. Be emotional healthy. Sometimes during times of crisis and decision-making, leaders become the problem because they are focused more upon themselves than they are upon the challenges they are facing. Leadership is not about being liked or pleasing people. Leadership is about assisting people to become who God created them to be.
Stay Focused Upon Why You Are Doing What You Are Doing
There has never been a greater time in your lifetime to help people love God and to love neighbor. You have been working to discover, learn, and develop new ways of connecting with people regarding their love for God. How will you model for your community and the world how to love your neighbor?
Paying attention and helping your congregation pay attention to the protocols of health and safety will go a long way in saying to people that you take them seriously. I am sure you have already begun to think of other ways to keep people safe and at the same time tell them they are important to and loved by God.
Strengthen Present Relationships and Develop New Ones
Relationships are key in developing trust. Who are the people you are presently related to within the church and community? How are you feeding and strengthening those relationships?
Who are the people in the community (teachers, principals, political leaders, first responders, etc.) you can reach out to and develop relationships? You will never have this time again. Take advantage of the opportunity, think outside the box, and step out in courage to lead like you have never led before.
Equip People To Take the Lead
As the leader, your job is to name current reality, model calm and compassionate behavior, assist people in the direction of hope, and identify and provide what is needed for people to succeed.
Your leadership will determine whether the church you lead is stronger or weaker on the other side of this pandemic. You have never had an opportunity like this before in your ministry.
To help you determine how you will lead people through this crisis, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are offering a one hour Zoom call for you and your leadership team. To participate, go to
https://Transformingmission.org/trust. This resource will help you and your leadership team position yourselves for navigating through this pandemic and to becoming a stronger congregation on the other side.
Regardless of how you are feeling, know there are people who love you and who ready to walk with you through these days. Go to https://Transformingmission.org/trust. Your best days are ahead.