Turning a Crisis into a Summons

By: William D. Shiell

Leadership works through crises. We write strategic plans; but in reality, we’re just reacting to the needs around us and adapting those plans to the conditions we’re facing now. That’s what leaders do. We’re in the midst of one of those moments. Despite our best efforts to plan for the future, we are now reacting to the realities of a pandemic. Visionary leaders see this time as a great moment of hope and awakening and a chance to adapt to new realities emerging.

The Bible is full of examples of this kind of leadership.
  • Ruth and Naomi bond together and go to Bethlehem in the midst of famine.
  • Moses leads people out of Egypt after and during signs, wonders, and plagues.
  • Paul responds to riots in Corinth, Thessalonica, and Ephesus by remaining calm, communicating, and working with Priscilla, Aquila and Timothy.
  • Jeremiah buys a field in the midst of exile.
My point is that leadership is all about how we react to crises rather than how we strategize about the future. As a pastor or a church leader, here’s what you can be doing now in the midst of this season.

Point People to God’s Presence
Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always.” He is with us now, and we can see Him at work through medical professionals who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Pray for our country, our churches, and our world.

Love Your Neighbor by Staying Home
It’s important now as leaders to demonstrate to others what they are to be doing. Stay home, make calls, check in with people, and use the pastoral care of the cell phone.

Build a Team for Yourself
You need community to keep you accountable and support you. Have a regular time of prayer and support with people  who love you and can be a sounding board. Listen for their wisdom.

The most important thing leaders do during the crisis is to keep communicating with their teams and organizations. We have many tools at our disposal. Use all of them. People connect and listen in different ways and hear a variety of voices. They want to hear from you. They appointed you as the leader; speak up, speak out, and let them know what you think.

Take a Risk
Now is the time for bold action. If you think you should do something, do it. You might experiment and have a setback. Failure is doing nothing.

To help you as leaders, we’ll be having free weekly Northern Live sessions on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. to share ideas and support one another. You can register now by emailing admissions@seminary.edu. We will send a zoom link to you.

March 23, 2020

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

ABOUT William

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