It seems like only days ago, people were filled with hope at the beginning of a new decade. The threat of a global pandemic was nowhere in our wildest imaginations. Now, a microscopic virus is lodged in the forefront of our minds, causing us to forge new frontiers in ministry.
In times of crisis, Christ calls up women who are courageous for Him. Remember the women who kept vigil at Golgotha while Jesus hung on the cross for six hours? Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary of Nazareth were among the faithful when the disciples and curiosity-seekers left the horrific scene. These devoted followers didn’t shrink back.
Today, when our churches and communities are facing unprecedented health risks and economic disaster, we need like-hearted women to rise up. God has prepared you for this moment in history. It’s no mistake that He’s placed you right where you are in leadership. But how can we lead at a time like this? Here are six suggestions to help you lead during a catastrophe.
How to Lead in a Crisis
1. Lead Under Authority
If you’re leading in a local church or within a ministry organization, don’t go rogue. God has placed us under authority for our protection (Heb. 13:17). Giving humble input to our leaders is wise. Resisting or ignoring their direction is foolish. Even if your opinion differs, be willing to lay aside your preference to maintain a united front. The people watching your submission will learn a valuable lesson in trusting our God-given authorities.
2. Lead in Prayer
Times of desperation require desperate prayer. The weapon of prayer is mighty for battling every enemy—whether it’s an evil principality or a pandemic (2 Cor. 10: 3–5).
Teach those you lead to take their anxieties to a God who loves them and has the power to keep them safe. Gather in pairs or triplets to pray only if it’s safe, or use conference calls or FaceTime in its place. Create a space to share prayer requests online. Echo the prophet Joel who called the people of his day to return to the Lord in fasting and prayer (Joel 2:15–16).
3. Lead to Christ
Christ is our anchor of hope in the torrential storm (Heb. 6:19). Wherever the tempest may blow our little skiff, Christ is the Captain, and we can trust He will take us where He wants us to go. For Christians, if a global pandemic ushers our failing bodies to the gates of heaven, we have the absolute confidence knowing we will wake up in Paradise to look into the eyes of Jesus (Rom. 14:8).
Be creative in getting the Truth into the hearts of those you lead. Keep pointing them to the Word that is unchanging in a world that’s changing at breakneck speed. Give them Scripture on God’s character and promises to memorize.
Consider creating a Bible reading plan to unify everyone while you’re unable to meet together. Read through a book of the Bible, one chapter each day (such as Ezra or Nehemiah to plead for the church and its return to worship, Hebrews for holding onto faith in turbulent times, or Matthew to root us in Christ and His sovereign rule) or read several verses from a Psalm (27, 46, or 91) per day to link their hearts. If it’s possible, provide a digital forum for women to journal their responses and prayers.
4. Lead with Love
People react differently during a massive crisis. Some are panicked; some are reckless. Some remain hopeful; others are paralyzed in fear. My own heart is a mixture of fear and faith, and I imagine yours is, too. We can love our sisters right where they are with the compassion of Jesus (Matt. 9:36). As we put their needs before our own, we’re reminded that our gentle Savior didn’t break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick (Isa. 42:3) as He followed His Father’s plan. Model the confident hope you have in Jesus, and they’ll be encouraged to follow your influence.
Brainstorm with your teams to find creative ways to keep people connected during periods of isolation. When regular meetings of the Body of Christ are interrupted, utilize other tools at our disposal such as email, social media like Facebook groups and chats, digital meeting platforms, group texts and applications.
It’s up to us to rally around our weaker sisters to make sure they have all the essentials they need . . . food, medicines, and household supplies. Give what you can whether it’s a quick trip to the store, a written note or phone call to ease their loneliness. As much as possible, stay the course of your studies and ministries even if it means you cannot physically meet together. In times of chaos, it’s reassuring to have as much normalcy as possible.
5. Lead to the Gospel
With the constant media blitz of encroaching danger, our minds are saturated to the brim with bad news. Lost neighbors and family members are primed for good news like never before. Look for every opportunity to share your hope and peace in Jesus. Offer to pray with or for the people you encounter who are perishing and need saving grace.
6. Lead in Holiness
God uses leaders who are humble and obedient to Him (Isa. 66:2). If we want Him to send revival and spiritual awakening in these dark days, we must first check ourselves to determine if we are ready.
Second Chronicles 7:14 gives four prerequisites for heart revival: humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and forsake sin. “Preparing for Revival” is a helpful tool to assess the current condition of your own heart. After you’ve prayerfully worked through the questions, share it with others as preparation to be used as His instruments in the world.
A Crisis Is Fertile Ground for Revival
Leading in a crisis isn’t easy. Given a choice, we might choose to huddle in our homes with our families tucked in tight and suggest women fend for themselves. You’re not that kind of leader. Extraordinary days are meant for extraordinary leadership.
In 1857, Jeremiah Lamphier was a layman in the Dutch Reformed Church of New York City who sensed the need to rally people to pray. Just two weeks after he began the noonday prayer meetings on Fulton Street, the stock market crashed. Thousands of people became bankrupt overnight. Beggars lined the streets. Desperate people were seeking answers to their despair and driven to prayer. Within six months, 10,000 people were crowding into churches to pray. Revival broke out and spread globally. It’s estimated one million people were saved and another one million Christians were revived during The Great Prayer Revival of 1857.
Sisters in leadership, we have an extraordinary opportunity before us. As we watch the world slow to a grinding halt, let’s pray that it happens because God visits His people not because of a virus outbreak. If only we will ask Him, now is the opportune time for God to revive His Church and awaken the lost.
There was a popular phrase coined during the Welsh revival, “Bend the church and save the world.” Let’s bring it back. May the Bride of Christ bow humbly in repentance then rise up in brilliance against the backdrop of a fearful world.