5 Steps to Leading Well in Times of Uncertainty

Published May 6, 2020

In times of uncertainty people look to leadership the most.

These can also be the most testing times for a leader—it’s in these moments that we are called to create stability. 

This is especially important when we consider how to lead through things like the current worldwide pandemic (I still can’t believe I’m writing that sentence) and other critical events that affect our ministries and communities. Others look to leaders for the behavior we model, and for direction on the next steps they should take. How we respond and communicate during will lead to either clarity or confusion for those whom we lead.

How do you lead from a good place in uncertain times?

Here are 5 practical steps to lead from a good place in uncertain times:

1. Take your worries to God in prayer.

As we lead in troubled times; we first have to navigate our own worries, struggles, doubts and fears—we’re not superhuman! Often in the midst of the busyness, it’s hard to remember simple disciplines like regular prayer.

In the words of the old hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” are found deep truths… what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

In times of uncertainty people look to leadership the most.

During these times, practice the method of “breath prayers” in the in-between moments. Use phrases like:

“I acknowledge you.”

“I trust you.”

“Lead me in this.”

“You are in control.”

The list is endless. Short breath prayers can sustain you throughout the day and refocus you.

 

2. Acknowledge the reality of the situation.

Avoid extreme responses like simplifying a very complex reality, over dramatizing, fatalism or over-the-top positivity. Deal in facts and be real.

Be sensitive to emotions and the fact that people process things very differently and at varying speeds.

The media bombards us with sensational and over-scrutinized news. Good leadership keeps it plain and responds to the actual reality rather than an imagined reality.

This is a daily commitment because things are changing daily. Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:34 to focus on today!

 

3. Choose faith over fear.

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of faith, love, power and a sound mind.” That’s a great filter for leadership in troubled times:

Is this strategy fear-based or faith-based?

Am I loving well those I’m leading?

Is God’s power a factor in my planning?

Does my leading come from a place of self-discipline?

Am I seeking God first in all of this?

 

4. Communicate next steps clearly.

An influential executive pastor once told me that he may not always be right, but he will be clear. A mark of great leaders is clarity around next steps. This doesn’t discount the importance of faith first and foremost.

Leaders who aren’t clear with next steps are not leading.

Good leadership also provides a non-anxious presence.

 

5. Lead yourself well by going back to God.

Start and end the day with God in His Word.

This determines focus and filter and sets the tone for the day ahead or your night’s sleep and refreshment.

Don’t start and end the day watching the news.

Don’t start and end the day on social media.

Feed your faith and starve your fear!

This determines focus and filter and sets the tone for the day ahead or your night’s sleep and refreshment.

Feed your faith and starve your fear!

 

Uncertainty is unavoidable. We are not in control…we never have been! But where Jesus has us right now is where Jesus is, and trusting Jesus in the moment is the best posture to lead from.

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

May we lead in uncertain times through the lens of faith because that puts all things in true perspective.

“These light and momentary troubles are achieving for us glory that far outweighs them all,” Paul said, “so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is eternal.”

Focus on the bad news, and you’ll end up leading from a bad place!

Focus on the good news that we are citizens of heaven, eagerly awaiting our Savior “who, by

the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil 3: 20-21) and we’ll lead from the best place.

About the Author
Tim Foot brings over 25 years of international church leadership experience as well as extensive work in the entertainment world.

Tim Foot

VP of Senior Leadership & Experience

Slingshot

Tim Foot brings over 25 years of international church leadership experience as well as extensive work in the entertainment world to Slingshot. As Vice President of Senior Leadership and Experience Divisions, he and his team have placed and coached hundreds of church leaders around the country. He has an affinity for cultural sensitivity in ministry as well as a passion for helping churches and leaders find their unique style and language that best connects them with God and His story.

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