Every strong church leader I know speaks of some trying experiences that tested and refined their leadership skills. Those experiences have largely been individualized—until COVID. In this case, it seems we’ve all had our skills tested at some level. Here are some areas I’m seeing as I serve as pastor and talk with pastors:
- Creativity. We were forced early on to be creative as we considered new ways to do church. If we weren’t ourselves creative, we had to find others who were.
- “Stick-to-it-ness.” The last nine months have been wearisome, especially for church leaders who weren’t fully comfortable where they were serving prior to COVID. Many have had to “stick it out” with as much joy as possible.
- Interdependence. Too many church leaders are thoroughly independent, seeking assistance from others only begrudgingly. This situation, though, has tested whether we willingly seek the assistance and support of others.
- Faith. When it’s hard to plan beyond this week, it’s even tougher to walk in faith. Faith sees unseen things, but all we seem to see now is an ongoing pandemic that’s created anxiety.
- Patience. It’s no secret that believers—including long-term friends who attend the same church—don’t always agree about the best response to COVID. In many cases, opinions are passionate and forceful—and require us to listen and lead others with patience.
- Ego. Those church leaders more accustomed to teaching and preaching to larger crowds have found themselves tested when crowds are often much smaller than they once were. We’ve been forced to look at our pride.
- Physical and emotional well-being. The weariness of the past several months, coupled often with less opportunity for exercise, has contributed to pastors and church leaders struggling with their own well-being. It’s tough to lead others well—beginning with your family—when you don’t lead yourself well.
- Vision-casting. If vision is a picture of a “preferred future,” many of us are finding it hard to seek God and dream about the future. Even our prayers for vision sometimes seem half-hearted when we’re thinking only about today’s immediate issues.
- Spiritual reproduction. The best Christian leaders raise up leaders and equip them to raise up even more leaders. Now, we’ve had to figure out how to do that using differing delivery systems, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance.
Leaders, how have you found yourselves tested these days?