Self-Leadership in a Crisis
God uses times of crisis to prepare leaders for, well… times of crisis. Perhaps you can trace your own leadership roots to a trial, weakness or disappointment. It’s how God prepared and reconstructed the Apostle Paul, who bravely said, “For when I’m weak, then I’m strong.” That’s comforting for someone my age, who has accumulated a cookbook -thick menu of failure over the years for God to draw from. But how does God turn times like this inside out, and recreate us? We often only see the outcome of his work, when someone emerges with voice, influence and something else, more notable—a followable spirit. Can there be a common lesson to learn and apply? I’d like to suggest one, if I may: Keep your eyes on the mission, not the mess we’re in. In other words, watch the white line.
When vision is impaired by weather, the only way to navigate the road is by watching the white line that keeps us from going into the ditch. The fog bank we find ourselves in has everyone squinting into what’s next. That’s the mistake we can make. Instead, I believe God wants us to keep an eye on the white line. To remind ourselves that we are first and foremost pilgrim missionaries, with two hands gripped to the steering wheel of our realities, and one eye on the line that will keep us moving forward. Ask, have I pulled off the road for any reason, or am I still moving, still watching the white line?
There are three things all of us can choose to do in order to follow the white line.
First, we can foresee. There are two ways we can move forward from here. One is that we hold back and wait for someone to take the lead. Big mistake! That’s like braking in the middle of a fog bank. The other is to rush forward and pretend the road isn’t socked in. Reckless. Isaiah 52:12 says, ““For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” I love this messianic chapter, because it points to the heart of god, his overarching protection, and the wisdom in trusting him. To foresee means we activate our belief by pouncing on what God has promised, embracing that promise with great expectation, and receiving what our eyes had hoped for. By faith, every day.
Next, we can forego. It’s the cousin of foresee. Moments of heroism don’t build a man or woman into a leader. It’s the fire storms of every day and every night, the faithful pleading and groaning for what has been promised, but with no promise in sight. The heroes of the faith did not receive what they had hoped for (Heb 11). It’s the struggle that turns weakness into strengths like the ability to rest and humility, character necessary for us to avoid either foaming at the mouth for progress, or feeling small out of fear. To forego means to trust God for peace needed to sit before him, and idle the trappings of restlessness, so that we wait on him to prepare in us what he wants to do through us.
Finally, we can forever. That may sound odd. To be a Christian means we are living in the power of a never-ending life. Right here, right now, we watch the white line, more focused than ever because of what’s going on in the world. You may feel helpless, or afraid, or even agitated. These are the signals from God to press in more acutely into the muscle of God’s strength in the power of the Holy Spirit. When the sky is clear and the road is long before you, it’s an easy drive to grandmother’s house we go. But it’s socked in right now. More questions than answers. More angst and fear than ever. It’s the perfect time to get out and be a beggar, telling all the other beggars, where to find the bread of life. The white line is our forever mission. We don’t claim to know it all. We only claim to know the one who does.