We all want to lead well in the face of extreme struggle and crisis. If you are honest, you don’t want to just lead through this, you want to win and beat the obstacles in front of you. The hard part is that our obstacles have never been faced before and they are continuing to move on us. It doesn’t change the fact that we all want to win, right? Our heart’s desire is to lead ourselves and our people to victory. No leader wants to fail; we all want to win.  

I get emails and phone calls from people who are hurting, weary, frustrated, and ready for this to be over. We cannot turn on the news or open Facebook without seeing toxic images and headlines. Some in our congregation don’t understand why we are not open yet and some are frustrated that we are open. We didn’t get to do camps, mission trips or even regular VBS this summer.  

It doesn’t feel like we are winning.  

In his book, Dichotomy of Leadership, Jocko Willink writes, “So what does it take to win? Yes, you have to be determined. Yes, you have to be driven. Yes, you must have the unconquerable will to win. But to really win, to truly win at all cost, requires more flexibility, more creativity, more adaptability, more compromise, and more humility than most people ever realize. That is what it takes to win.” 

This book is incredible, but this quote gives us a blueprint to work through some of our leadership struggles personally and as a team. Here are five areas for us to process as we continue to lead and win in uncertain times.  

1. Flexibility  

Have you been asked to do something recently that is not in your job description? Did you push back or did you get it done? For some, flexibility is hard because we have been set in our ways for so long that we don’t like being stretched.  

Question to Ask: What areas of ministry do I need more flexibility?  

2. Creativity  

Go ahead and throw out the phrase, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” We are past that and we have to get creative with how ministry works in the future. Lean into creativity and see what happens. Have the mindset “Lets try it” instead of “It is not going to work.” If you are not a creative person, who on your team or at your church is creative? They may need to use some flexibility to help you out.  

Question to Ask: What is your current creative process? Do you need to make one? 

3. Adaptability

Your gifting and strengths may need to be used in other areas. You may be asked to even change roles. Adapting means that you adjust to the new normal. Healthy adaptability takes speed and managing expectations. Ministry looks different now, and its going to be different for a while.  

Question to Ask: In what ways have I refused to adapt?  

4. Compromise 

Compromising doesn’t make you weak; it makes you a team player. Compromise means that you are willing to take a back seat for the greater good of the whole church or ministry. You may be passionate and driven in your area, but it may not be a good use of time in the moment. Instead of being upset that you are not getting things your way, ask how you can help and support.  

Question to Ask: What areas in my ministry can I NOT compromise? Hold on to those and evaluate the rest.  

5. Humility 

You might not have all the great ideas. You might not be the center of attention. We need leaders who are inventive and inspired for the future. To be innovative you must understand that most great ideas for the future may not come from you but from others around you. Great leaders can leverage the art of listening, and it starts with a humble heart. Humble leaders give away credit for success and take ownership for failure. 

Question to Ask: Are you listening?  

Please give yourself grace. No one has ever had to lead any ministry though a pandemic and national crisis that we are in the middle of. If you are like me, you are the hardest on yourself. Stop it! Use these questions as a tool to refocus and reevaluate yourself as a leader.  

Lastly, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9  

Bobby Cooley
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