The crisis: the pandemic year and all it threw at us was a crisis every leader had to navigate. This crisis, and crises like it, produce clarity and shine a light on leadership, and they highlight strengths and weaknesses. In the crunch time of a game, players do not become something new; they expose who they are. All the work, training, and discipline allow them to respond to the moment. The same is true for leaders. Crisis reveals who we are and what we are trained to do. The problems our world has faced over the past couple of years (e.g., COVID-19, Race, politics, etc.), have not only exposed the reality of our leadership but have begun to highlight the need for a new type of leader.
The Game-Changing Leader
Crisis can be a catalyst for change if we learn from it and allow it to change us. As a result, a new type of leader emerges from the crisis. The kind of leader concerned with community impact more than just organization health. A leader focused more on transformation than information transfer.
As leaders God has appointed for such a time, we must respond to the new thing God is doing. We cannot do the same things and expect different results.
6 Lessons from the Crisis for Game-Changing Leaders
Lead with Passion and Conviction
For too long, the leader who shares the best and freshest information wins. We spend most of our time as leaders trying to find new information and a new way to say it. We have more information than we know what to do with, so when a crisis hits, people do not care what we know, they see what we care about. Passion is a leader’s best friend because it provides conviction to lead when life is hard and a compass for direction when we feel lost. It gives meaning to why we do what we do.
Passion-driven leaders spend time with hurting people because it gives purpose to what they are doing. Information-driven leaders spend time alone searching for more information. If we are not around hurting people, we will not lead with passion. Game-changing leaders live and lead with passion because it motivates them to make a difference. So, game-changing leaders are passion-driven leaders.
Lead Towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The racial tension amid the pandemic highlighted the realities our communities have faced for generations. The videos from Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd put visuals to voices who have been crying out for generations! These videos made it impossible to look away from the racial challenges our world has faced for generations. Many leaders leaned into these challenges for a season. Many leaders began to act on becoming diverse expressions of the kingdom. Diversity is a great starting point, but it is not the only thing about generations of oppression to minorities.
Equity means everyone deserves opportunities to reach their full God-given potential. However, an investment is needed that most minority communities and leaders do not have. Inclusion says we are not just going to bring diversity to the table; we will bring influence to impact the direction and vision of our work. This conversation has become very political, but the reality is that game-changing leaders understand diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are willing to make the investments to change the current realities of the communities they serve.
Lead Knowing the Landscape and Language of the City
Leaders who understand the landscape of our culture and can communicate with those outside our congregations have the most capacity to influence our cities. Ultimately, as leaders, we are called to influence our communities and cities. Social influence brings spiritual change, which requires understanding the realities and challenges our cities face.
This means that we must spend time with leaders and individuals outside the church’s walls. Many leaders spend most of their time managing the church staff, prepping for sermons, and counseling church members. The common theme here is “church.” We spend so much time inside the church walls that we miss out on why we exist in the first place. When the crisis hit, most of our cities went outside the church to find solutions.
What if the church is the first group that our cities approach when the next pandemic hits? The church, focused correctly, can mobilize the most people. Still, it requires us to understand the realities of our cities and have the influence to speak into the lives of those leading our city. Game-changing leaders know the landscape and language of the cities they lead in.
Lead by Preaching the 360-Degree Gospel
The pandemic spotlighted the gospel we believe and the gospel we have been preaching. I heard “compassion fatigue” during the pandemic more times than I can remember. People got tired of hearing about the needs and challenges in our world. In sports, we train and condition for what we value. Our condition plan is based on the goals we set. I have never heard a leader say anything about “tithing fatigue.” Could it be that we have conditioned our people to value what we value?
The gospel has two parts. The first part is where God changes us. God loves us and wants to transform us. This leads to conversion, character growth, and connecting to a community of like-minded people. I believe this is where most gospel presentations stop. The second part of the gospel is when God invites us to join him in changing the world. This leads to understanding our calling, getting behind kingdom causes, and being empowered to build kingdom culture wherever we are. We preach the 360-degree gospel, only when we incorporate both parts. Game-changing leaders communicate and develop individuals around the 360-degree gospel. Then, and only then, can we condition our people consistently with the values we have.
Lead Through Mobilization and Distribution
During the pandemic, non-essential buildings were shut down. The sad reality was that most churches were shut down. This reality clarified how we utilize what God has given us. Our buildings and resources have been developed to cultivate places to meet for many. Typically, these facilities are used a couple of times a week but remain vacant throughout the week. Instead, our facilities should be leveraged to distribute resources to our community. They should be a resource to mobilize our people to love their neighbors practically.
We need to think like Amazon. Amazon puts a premium on mobilization and distribution. Similarly, we need to think that way about our meeting spaces; the church was never a building to begin with. The church has the capacity to mobilize the most people in the shortest amount of time. The game-changing leader leverages facilities and resources to mobilize its organization to distribute needs to the community.
Lead by Leveraging Structures and Rhythms
Before the pandemic, many leaders believed “church” could only happen in person. In the pandemic, every leader shifted and believed “church” could happen online also. The pandemic highlighted the age-old truth, “The message never changes, but the methods can.” It also highlighted the power of being together. There was something so powerful when churches began to come together after not meeting for so many months. Coming out of the pandemic, we had an opportunity to leverage media in new ways. The pandemic permitted us to think differently and change methodology.
The rhythms of most churches compete with their values. Many churches value outreach and community impact, but with weekly services, small groups, church meetings, and more, we often do not leave room for the lives and activities of the people in our cities. Jesus asked us to seek justice and help those in need, especially the poor. Yet, our consistent rhythms get in the way. Maybe it is time to change our rhythms and allow them to reflect what we’ve been called to do.
When many churches shut their doors, many non-profits sprung into action. This gave many of us the opportunity to mobilize, since we’re people and not a building. It should have led us to volunteer and serve our cities, by being the church to them. The non-profit provides a structure to mobilize the church to impact the community. But, this crisis should also have us contemplating our structure and whether it really serves our actual mission. The game-changing leader will look at the church’s structure and will leverage it on behalf of the community. They will also shift any rhythms of the church that do not compliment the mission.
All in all, game-changing leaders are emerging from the crisis and will be the catalysts for the new thing God is doing.
You are a game-changing leader! Let’s go!