Fall is here, and in some parts of the country, the leaves will soon begin to drop. Autumn always brings a sense of change in the air.
More than the seasons, we all know change has been brewing for more than six months now, and considering all the challenges, overall, I think churches are doing a good job adapting.
We don’t fully know what the post-COVID church will be, but as each month passes, we have a better understanding of what that reality might be.
I’d like to drill down a little in this post and talk about how we are changing as Christians. Even more specifically, How are you and I changing as spiritual leaders?
It’s not possible to experience what we have all gone through with the Coronavirus and not change at all. How have you changed?
The world has changed.
We see it differently and experience it differently.
We have our own perspectives of how we see current reality, some more positive and some less optimistic, but no one experiences reality the same as we did in February of 2020.
Life will settle and “normalize” at some point, and we will get through this, but none of us know precisely when or how that happens. That said, we are responsible for leading the way.
What an incredible opportunity and privilege.
None of us can lead effectively if we are not self-aware, so knowing how COVID has changed you, little or great, is vital.
Consider these new realities:
- Some leaders have stopped taking risks.
- Some leaders are struggling with fear.
- Some leaders have lost their sense of joy.
- Some leaders are experiencing unusual levels of stress in their families.
- Some leaders are feeling distant from God.
- Some leaders are worried about the political realities of our country.
- Some leaders have less faith and hope.
Maybe you’ve experienced one or more of these yourself.
This list appears terribly negative – I know. But we can’t get to the real stuff if we aren’t honest.
If you don’t relate to anything on this list, you are blessed, and I trust you are helping others find their way.
Here’s the good news. There is always hope for a bright future, but it rarely is found down an easy path.
The good news is that the changes happening within us can make us better, and we can therefore lead better, which in turn helps make the world better.
The practical point of this post is to know how you have changed and determine not to be passive about those changes.
Decide how you want to change, how you want to be better, and do your best to make that happen. If you find it difficult, ask for help.
- Lean into positive changes.
- Correct the negative changes.
The following questions, if answered honestly, will help you get there.
The answers will paint a picture, and you can decide if you like what you see or if you want to change the colors.
9 questions to help you discover the change you want to make.
1) Are you more tender toward people?
It’s not the virus that has changed us; it’s the result of the virus in our culture. Some have become more hardened and others more tender.
Some are in survival mode, and others are leaning into serving. There is no criticism here; I understand both. This is tough for everyone.
Do your grace and compassion seem greater or somewhat diminished?
2) Have you become protective of what you have?
From possessions to power, when we feel a sense of loss, it’s easy to be tempted to protect and hold tightly to what should be held loosely.
We know life change is what is most important, but no honest leader prays for fewer people. For example, no church planter prays, “I hope we grow to 50 people and stop.”
Attendance is not at the forefront until you lose it. Numbers are not the point here; it’s an illustration, but one we all understand.
Protective, ”hold what we have,” leadership based on defense rather than offense is not the answer. It’s better to be good stewards of that which we have been entrusted and keep moving forward.
3) Are you more generous than usual?
I’m amazed at the level of generosity from so many leaders in a time when it would be easy to hold back.
The sharing of content, coaching on zoom calls, and simply being available is truly a gift to all who are Kingdom builders.
Personally, I want to say thank you to all who share and help so much.
4) Has uncertainty stolen your ability to risk?
I’ve written previously that the “new overwhelm or new overload” is the outcome of unanswered questions, unsolved problems, and unknown future at levels we’ve never experienced before.
Risk-taking for leaders has never been easy, but it’s always been necessary.
Today, risk is required. There are no options. We don’t know the future but to avoid risk is to get stuck and soon go backward.
Waiting out the storm isn’t the answer; the courage to move forward is our prayer.
5) Has fear quenched some of your hope?
Fear is natural, and we’ve all experienced it to some degree. The economy, the elections, the pandemic… worries and fears are not unjustified, but they are unproductive.
Faith and hope are closely connected, and for us as leaders, when we merge that into the vision God has given, the prayer is to rise above fear and take action.
This is not the time to give up. Keep going; your hope is real.
6) Can you point to the good that God is doing?
In times like these, we must first look for the good, then talk about the good, then take action to do more good.
A positive spirit is not a shallow notion or a Pollyanna position. It’s required to lead people in difficult times.
Even more important is your ability to see the good God is doing, talk about it, and do all you can to keep it going.
7) Are you more intimate or more isolated?
Relationships are the lifeblood of the soul. They make or break our families, friendships, and working relationships.
The past many months have created so much isolation, from the shelter in place to hidden faces behind masks.
It can be difficult to be closer to people rather than farther (at a heart level), but isolation will hurt you.
How are your most important relationships?
8) Has your confidence increased or decreased?
With the release of my new book, Confident Leader, I’ve thought a great deal more about leadership confidence during this COVID season.
I sense that most leaders have not lost their confidence, but for many, it’s been shaken. They are unsure and second-guessing themselves and their decisions. This can tend to literally change their thinking and behavior.
This is a good time to ask some honest questions about your confidence and take steps to strengthen it.
9) Are you more resilient now?
Bouncing back from a setback is a normal practice for a leader, but when setbacks come seemingly month after month, it can wear you down.
When you experience increased and sustained pressure, your resilience weakens if you are not in a healthy environment with life-giving people.
Do you need a soul level refresh? Start by letting God carry what you can’t carry.
Take some time to reflect on your responses and decide if you are headed in the direction you want to go as a person and a leader.
Maybe there are one or two things you want to improve or change.
Take advantage of the opportunity this unusual season has created.