the shape of leadership

Leading by Following

In this season of crisis and beyond, we need God’s guidance

Kent Ingle on July 24, 2020

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is to be ready for anything. However, responding to whatever may come our way is easier said than done.

COVID-19 has shown there are some things in ministry that are simply beyond our control. From transitioning to online services to meeting the needs of community members in crisis, this has been a season of stretching and adapting.

Some leaders have struggled with the changes, which is certainly understandable. But if we expect our teams to remain flexible and move in unity, we need to be in a good place emotionally and spiritually. We must genuinely trust in and depend on God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s where effective leadership begins. Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

As we navigate this unpredictable time, we expect team members to follow our lead. But we also have to be sure we’re following where God leads — and that means responding to His guidance with trust and obedience. Here are three ways to lead by following during times of crises:

1. Lead by example. It can be easy to lose heart in this season. It’s natural to feel weary, frustrated and anxious during tough times. But if we want those we lead to maintain focus, clarity and hope, we must press in to God’s Word and prayer — especially when we are feeling overwhelmed.

If you have genuinely taken God’s Word to heart, it should be evident in your outlook — even in challenging times.

It’s not about your strength but Christ’s. Lead by trusting and leaning on God more earnestly. Not only will your faith grow, but you’ll also inspire others to greater faith.

2. Keep your attitude in check. Our faith in God should affect our attitude, perspective and leadership. If you wallow in negativity, others will emulate it. However, if you have genuinely taken God’s Word to heart, it should be evident in your outlook — even in challenging times.

3. Seek God’s counsel. The effects of this pandemic have lasted longer than many of us would have imagined. Responding to it has meant navigating difficult decisions, like when to reopen and how to stretch the ministry budget to do more with less. With so many variables and uncertainties, we need wisdom and insight that can only come from God.

Proverbs 3:21-23 says, “Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.”

In seasons of crisis — and in every other season — we need God’s counsel and wisdom. Just as this pandemic has taught us to be more adaptable to ever-changing times, it should teach us all to keep a closer ear to the voice of God.

Are you seeking God’s leading as you lead? Are you leaning into the Word of God more? Are you allowing God’s Spirit to mold and shape yours through this crisis, even when there seems to be no end in sight?

Maybe this pandemic is an opportunity to grow deeper in our faith and more reliant on God. Perhaps it will help us truly learn what it means to lead others by following the example of Christ.

We all have room to grow and things to learn. As church leaders, this pandemic may feel like a great test of our faith. Rather than resist it, we can let God use it to draw us closer to Him.

No doubt, this season will pass. In the meantime, why not allow God to change us so we can better reflect His character and embody His love?

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