Three Practices for Leading Through Hard Times

Leaders, this message is for you. Since COVID-19 came to impact all of us, not only has the burden on leaders been high, but the need for leaders to lead with strength, courage, and grace has been even higher.

Like many of you, I’ve had to navigate the sustainability and survival of the organizations that I steward. I’ve had to make personal sacrifices of time, energy, and finances. I’ve had to answer questions in situations that were ambiguous, when people wanted certainty. I’ve felt mentally and physically drained.

Just like you, I have a savior whose arms are open wide, who invites me to bring my burden, my worries, and my exhaustion to Him, and who welcomes me into His arms of rest, ease, and grace.

Leaders, I want to encourage you with a mantra that will help you lead in these hard times:

Proceed properly on the pathway that He provides.  

As I’ve navigated this challenging season, there are three practices that I’ve embraced that have helped me lead:

Practice 1: Pray. Prayer plants power.

Practice 2: Prepare. Preparation provides possibilities.

Practice 3: Persevere. Perseverance produces praise.  

With these three practices in place, we can all proceed properly on the pathway that He provides.  

Practice 1: Pray. Prayer plants power.

As someone who views leadership as a stewardship responsibility, each year I like to list out prayer points for each of the areas with which I’m entrusted. As the world began navigating the ramifications of COVID, I found myself praying more intently for each of these areas. When the answers were uncertain, I prayed. When the challenges became overwhelming, I prayed.

We see Jesus when He is in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:39-46 and death is on the doorstep. What does He do? He goes towards the challenge and He prays with those closest to him. We see prayer mentioned five times in these verses. He encourages His disciples to pray, He withdraws and prays, He prays even more as He is in anguish.

Prayer plants power that is unseen. As we pray, we invite God to move in the spiritual realm, in areas that are tangible to us. Leaders, don’t think prayer is unimportant in your role. Whatever that role might be CEO, teacher, student, manager, and everything in between--pray. Let your prayers plant the power of God into your circumstances.

Practice 2: Prepare. Preparation provides possibilities.

Just like you, I’ve had to make predictions off of groundless assumptions. I have the honor of stewarding the Vision, Mission, and Values of the Kigali International Community School, KICS where we welcome students from over 30 countries. How are you supposed to prepare a budget based on enrollment, when you don’t know how many students might remain in the country? Or if school will even reopen? To date, schools in Rwanda are not allowed to reopen physically, but have been encouraged to strengthen their online offerings instead. What a hard way to prepare.

That said, I’m writing now at the end of the first week of “KICS Reimagined,” our theme for this year. We’ve had a great week. We were able to provide a device for each of our students. We revamped our offerings from in-person to online. We are living out the Vision, Mission, and Values of this incredible learning institution.

Did all of this happen by accident? No. We prepared. We prepared four budgets for our board’s approval. We conserved as much cash as we could. We made hard decisions on staffing, budgeting, and how to deliver our education. While we would certainly prefer to be in person with our students, we are delivering an outstanding learning experience through KICS Reimagined.

As leaders, I encourage you not to lose sight of preparation. As leaders, we must prepare for possibilities and scenarios that are in line with where our futures might lead. Preparation provides possibilities. Do the work today to have options and possibilities tomorrow.  

While we see Jesus in the Garden, as hard as this moment is, He knows that this is what He has been preparing for. When Judas comes and the soldiers arrest Him, His life has been prepared to step into the most horrific and most amazing act of love known to humankind.  

Practice 3: Perseverance produces praise.

Can you imagine what the story would be if Jesus didn’t persevere? Imagine if He had said, “No thanks, I’m going fishing.” As a result of Jesus’ perseverance in the face of arrest, beating and flogging, the golgotha road, and the crucifixion, He has given the offer of life eternal to all who believe.  

Romans 5:3-4 says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love, into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”  

Leaders, persevere. In this season of suffering, of challenge, of trying, let God do the deep work in your heart in and through it. Let God grow you in this season of challenge.

And through it, may we praise. Praise spontaneously. Praise routinely. Praise quietly. Praise loudly. Praise.

Ask my kids how many times I’ve sung The Blessing these past months. Ask them how many times I’ve sung Christmas songs in the summer. Why? Because every Christmas song worth singing is about Jesus and His gift of life. Brothers and sisters, leaders, let your life be marked by praise as you persevere through these times.  

In following these three practices, I hope you find the courage you need to take the next step. To proceed properly on the pathway He provides. Don’t look for shortcuts, don’t look for the easy way out, and don’t give up. God has called you, He has equipped you, He has entrusted a piece of His earthly kingdom to you. You are His ambassador to your family, to your business, and to your community. Take the next step and proceed properly on the pathway He provides.

I’d love to pray for you specifically. Leave a comment below on how I can pray for you.

God bless you.