I recently read a survey of CEOs of growing businesses, and I found out that when asked what is the most important skill to grow a business that 84% of them said it was dealing with uncertainty.
The last couple of years have definitely been times of great uncertainty, and recent events proves that uncertainty is here to stay. So, as a pastor, a businessman, an elder, a dad – how do you lead your sphere of influence in uncertain times.
You see the problem is that uncertainty feels like a threat. You cannot know what will happen next, there are gaps in your expectations for the future, and your mind fills in the gaps with negative thoughts. Then when you feel threatened, it can be difficult to operate in faith – or even objectively.
So, your first thing to do is to stop seeing uncertainty as a threat and see it as an opportunity. This is the pivot you need to make to handle uncertain times. Stop seeing them as threats and start seeing them as opportunities. This is vital. When we were restricted from having live, in-person services by law, I was very much tempted to see it like a threat. I was tempted to be dismayed, to think that we could not continue as a church, as a family of churches, that we would not survive. My flesh was very keen to fill in the gaps with negative pictures and images. But I did not that win, I focused on the opportunities available and really pushed into online services, we had over thirty services some weeks, we build the system with webcams, sound equipment, we still have online prayer meetings and teaching ministries today In the first year of lockdown, we grew financially by 24.9%. That’s staggering. The root of thriving in uncertainty was an attitude of seeing things like this as an opportunity not a threat.
Opportunity should be defined by how can we make a difference. How can we help people? We could not reach people in-person so we needed to think about how we could still make a difference in people’s lives – we used YouTube, Facebook, phone calls, letters, everything. We did all we could – some of it worked, some didn’t, so we kept refining, kept doing, and kept advancing.
Your first thing to do in times of uncertainty is develop an attitude. Ok, I cannot do what I wanted to do, I cannot do what I used to do, I cannot do what I planned to do – but I can do something. I can help someone. I can do something similar, something useful. I can take my skills and abilities – both my soft skills and hard skills – and I can do something. That attitude will lead to ideas coming, it will lead to you taking bold action, it will lead to things changing for the better.
Now, the reason that is easier said than done. The reason for that is because uncertainty is emotional. In fact, studies have shown that uncertainty affects our emotions and stresses us more than knowing for certain that something bad is coming. That means a pastor would be less stressed not knowing if they are about to go through a church split than actually know for sure that they would. That’s staggering, but it is the reality of the situation. Even in good times, some leaders struggle to enjoy them and expect the future to be good just because they do not know it will for sure. They definitely need to work on that.
Of course it’s not fun making guesses, no matter how good those guesses are. Most leaders like knowing what is about to happen next, they like to analyse, to plan, to predict. Uncertainty makes us uncomfortable, and not only that make us frustrated. Frustration makes us forget to pray, to think, to have a positive, expectant attitude!
Uncertainty becomes a distraction. So, we need to change our focus, then as leaders help others focus on the right attitude. We have survived so far, and thrived in the storm, and we will not fail in this next storm. We will not even fail in the storms we are not even sure are happening. We will not fail. We can trust the Lord and even if certain paths are closed, we are both capable and called and we will reroute and find a new path to our destination – it could easily be a better path.
Develop the attitude that you can advance in uncertain times. You need to!