Leading is easy when things are going well; but when the train is derailed a leader’s response speaks loudly about their character; and it speaks volumes about their faith. “Faith and leadership go hand in hand, in that good leadership is not dependent upon one’s talents or gifts but upon one’s total surrender to God and dependence upon the Holy Spirit to amplify what God has given them.” Leadership is never needed more than during times of crisis, and now is one of those times.
Public health officials have declared the coronavirus pandemic, an “unprecedented event,” as it continues its worldwide attack. Globally more than 185,000 have lost their battle to the virus. Our economy has suffered, the unemployment rate has risen, and many schools and businesses have closed. There is no denying that these events, and their impacts on us, are horrific. But, if you remember the Swine and Avian Flus, Ebola, SARS, and the Global Aids Pandemics, they too were described as “unprecedented events.”
We have taken measures to self-quarantine and implemented social distancing guidelines. It appears these strategies are working as the number of those infected declines. Now we demand the loosening of these restrictions, as people seek the return of business and a normal life. But, according to Dr Nicole Saphier, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “America needs to "hunker down" for a bit longer to avoid a potentially "catastrophic" resurgence in coronavirus cases.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hunker down” as meaning “to stay in place for a period of time.” While accurate this definition is insufficient, especially for Christians. Hunker down is more than staying in place, it also means to “refuse to abandon one’s opinion or belief.” When we hunker down, we also express our faith.
We have faith that our doctors, medical professionals, and researchers will find a vaccine or other treatment to get us through this pandemic. Yet, we know getting back to normal requires more than vaccines, it requires leadership. We know getting back to normal requires a spiritual recovery; a healing only God can provide. So, we pray.
We pray that our leaders have open and truthful hearts. For the believer, faith and leadership are inseparable; for better or worse, one cannot exist without the other. We pray that our leaders will move from seeking to fulfill self or political interests to seeking God’s will.
We have seen, time and again, the results of self-serving and ineffective leadership and the impact on those affected. We saw how investors relied on Bernie Madoff and Enron to deliver prosperity and financial security, instead deception, embezzlement, and financial ruin were delivered. Self-serving leaders seek the path of least resistance. They look for, and take, shortcuts.
But leaders seeking to follow God’s will, bypass shortcuts. Leaders don’t let us drown in loneliness, isolation, and despair. They move us from inaction to action, and from despair to hope. Leaders create new paths, build arks, and when necessary part seas.
We can’t always know or understand the reasons that disasters, diseases or pandemics occur. We know it’s not true but, sometimes we seek to avoid responsibility by attributing them to God’s will. Sometimes they are the result of pursuing of our own goals and interests. Yet, amid this, God’s presence is visible.
A decrease in carbon and toxic emissions have been reported. In New York, the Hudson River is cleaner. Marine life is returning to the canals of Vienna. The endangered sea turtle is experiencing a rebirth of its population. In India, people go outside to see something that hasn’t been visible in decades, the majestic Himalayan Mountains.
History has taught us, there will be other disasters and diseases, and new leaders will emerge. Leaders seeking to follow God’s will confidently proclaiming, as Hebrews 4:16 (VOICE) encourages us:
“So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.”
Mercy, grace, and leadership are not found in boardrooms or the halls of politic. They are found in heart, head, hands, and habits of “ordinary” people. We find it in heart of store clerks paying for the groceries of an exhausted nurse, in the head of a doctor creating a new ventilator so a patient can breathe, in the hands of the food bank workers distributing food to the hungry, and the habits of the faithful who pray and continue to give thanks. Why give thanks to God?
In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Max Lucado wrote a “Prayer for America.” In it he took a moment to say:
“And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.”
This timeless prayer reminds us not to succumb to the fears of the moment. It reminds us that expressing our anxiety, fear, despair, hopelessness, and isolation may seem logical, and perhaps even appealing; but they keep us mired in a negative and self-defeating cycle. Instead we can have faith, thank, and move closer to God that who never self-isolates. He is waiting for us with open arms and wants to draw near to us. If we would only let Him.
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