Just when we thought we were seeing the light at the end of this really, really long COVID tunnel, the Delta variant decided to launch us into a new round of uncertainty and vulnerability.
The debate about masks, vaccines, the kids returning back to school in the fall, social distancing, and large public gatherings is once again making daily headlines.
And once again, as church leaders, we need to step up and lead our people during a very uncertain (and for some, downright scary) time.
Back when COVID-19 originally closed all of our churches, I encouraged church leaders to ‘lean-in’ rather than ‘zoning out’.
Again, seventeen months later, my advice is still the same. As church leaders, we need to ‘lean-in’ and lead those that are entrusted to our care.
Leaning-in may look different on Thursday of this week than it does today. Never have things changed so quickly as they are in today’s world. This weekend in Afghanistan is a great example of how quickly things can change, right?
Seth Godin says that these changes or disturbances can be seen by leaders as either ‘speed bumps’ or ‘obstacles’.
According to Seth, we’re either ‘going or we’re not’.
(I would say, we’re either ‘leaning-in’ or we’re not).
Each day we make the choice. Each day, especially during this season, we need to make the decision to ‘lean-in’. To tell our team and our congregation, “We’re going.”
(Side note: As church leaders, do we really have a choice? Our mission is the most important one in the world. It is way too important to pause, stop, or (even for a season) zone out.)
While we’re ‘going’, there will be things that come up… problems that we never could have anticipated. These are the speed bumps or obstacles.
Here’s what Seth says:
That detour we hit, the pothole we narrowly avoided, the interruption that was unexpected–we experienced them, and we decided that we’re still going.
Speed bumps are real. They’re a warning, or they’re unavoidable, and they hurt. Speed bumps cannot be denied.
A speed bump that stops us from going is an obstacle.
Often, the only difference between a speed bump and an obstacle is our decision about which one it is.
Over the past 17 months, we’ve hit many potholes, experienced many detours, and have many changes of plans (none of which we anticipated).
Each one of these were either a speed bump or an obstacle. We get to pick which they are.
Many who have seen these challenges as an obstacle are (at this point) beaten down or angry and bitter. Many are considering leaving the ministry.
Those who have seen these challenges as a speed bump have slowed down, carefully maneuvered, and moved on. In many cases, hardly missing a beat.
Here’s the challenge. These next few months are going to continue to be tough.
There will be more challenges. More speed bumps. Or obstacles. You get to choose what you want to call them.
Obstacles will stop you dead in your tracks.
Speed bumps may slow you down, but you'll still be moving forward.
None of us signed up for this. Leading during a pandemic is probably the toughest job you’ve ever had. But there has never been a time where ministering to people spiritually was more needed.
God has you where He has you for a reason ... speed bumps and all.
What a complicated and exciting time to serve Jesus and His church.
Press on, my friend.