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As the virus rages on here in Michigan, the impact on churches and their leaders has been heavy. We hear from leaders who are hanging in there, but some are hanging by a thread.

So I thought it would be good today to write about some practical ways leaders can develop resilience. The word resilient is defined as “being capable of withstanding shock without permanent rupture.” In other words, the ability to bounce back.

So I’d like us to look at three things leaders can do to bounce back after getting knocked down in these most difficult of times, especially our friends here in Michigan, where we unfortunately lead the nation in COVID cases per 100,000 people.

Go deeper 

Challenging times call for forcing our roots deeper into Christ. We’re not pastors first who happen to love God. We’re lovers of God first who happen to pastor. If we want resilience in our lives as leaders, the ability to bounce back, I don’t see any pathway to it that doesn’t include us slowing down, and having meaningful times of connection with the Lord on a consistent basis. For some leaders, the pandemic has slowed them down (I think this is the minority), and they’ve taken advantage of extra time to spend with Jesus. For most leaders, the pandemic has sped them up, and often the casualty is alone moments with the most resilient person ever – Father God.

Find moments – even if they’re brief – to go deeper in your walk with God. It will help you develop resilience. Meaningful times of connection with God will allow you to bounce back more quickly.

Run smarter

It’s hard to be resilient when you’re exhausted. Resilience is built over time by leaders who steward their physical, mental, and emotional resources with great and purposeful care. How can you steward these resources?

  • Punch out at a reasonable time on those evenings you have no church-related events. And if every week you have 3-4 church items scheduled at night, you may need to prune some of those items from your schedule.
  • Guard your day off like your life depended on it – because in many ways your life does depend on it. So does the quality of your life, and the length of your leadership run.
  • Get with a mentor who can help you figure out what to delegate to the trash can, what to delegate to your team, etc.

The better you steward your personal resources, the better shot you have at being resilient. You, and you alone, are responsible for running smarter. Your board, your staff, your spouse, etc. are not responsible for this behavior in your life . . . you are.

Reach wider

Resilience grows in the company of friends who both encourage and challenge us. Resilience leaks when we’re isolated. The pandemic has made it harder to reach wider. Some leaders have used the pandemic as an excuse to hibernate.

COVID-19 requires us to get creative with reaching wider . . . using the phone, or Zoom, or outside meetings with physical distancing. None of these helps our brain as much as eyeball-to-eyeball contact, but they are much better than doing nothing and waiting for things to return to normal, whatever that is and whenever—if ever—that happens.

So to all of you who are reading this post today—we care about what’s happening in your world. We encourage you to work on developing resilience. We think it’s becoming a must-have quality both now and for the foreseeable future for every leader.

Cheering you on,

John

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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