the shape of leadership

Certain Truth for Uncertain Times

Entering a new year with confidence and faith

Chris Railey on December 31, 2019


As leaders, we’re supposed to know where to go and what to do. If you’re like me, you feel the weight and pressure of clearly communicating vision and strategy to lead effectively into the future.

With one year drawing to a close and a new year on the horizon, people want to know what’s ahead: What is the fresh word from God? Where are we going this year? How will we get there?

So we read books and go to conferences, looking for new ideas and any advantage we can find to help us lead well into the future. The pressure for fresh vision and direction, especially as we lead in uncertain and complex times, can seem relentless and overwhelming.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin asked, “How do I know what to do when I’ve never done this before?” How do we lead in a direction we’ve never gone? This kind of leadership seems rare, more difficult, and more valuable in the rapidly changing culture in which we live.

The challenges ahead will require bold moves, paradigm shifts and courageous leaders who are willing to risk failure for the glory of God. Like Joshua and the people of Israel as they prepared to step out of their past and into their future, our job is to follow where God leads:

As we head into a new year with new challenges, we can trust God to show us the way.

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:3-4, emphasis added).

Twenty-first century leadership requires us to lead through many “I’ve never done this or been this way before” moments. Effective leadership will require greater flexibility, adaptability and inquisitiveness.

Good leaders know that asking better questions can get them closer to the desired outcome. They’re humble and able to learn, unlearn and relearn. And they hustle. Effective leadership in uncertain times requires an incredible amount of hustle.

However, the greatest quality for leading into the unknown is a willingness to fix our eyes on God, following His presence — whichever direction He takes us. After all, He has been this way before.

As we plan and strategize where to go and what to do next, let’s make sure our level of prayer, fasting and seeking God matches the level of the complexities we face. Let’s make sure our eyes are focused on, and our hearts are in tune with, the leading and direction of the Lord. Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

The stakes are high, but the promise is still before us, and God will show us exactly where to go and what to do.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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