3 Ways That A Crisis Helps Us Rethink Our Strategy
I was reading an article at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak that examined how historical Presidents led amid a crisis. The author made a very important observation: while we can make educated guesses based on someone’s personality or experience, we don't know how someone will respond in a crisis until they are in the midst of it.
The author noted that some Presidents who would have seemed able to handle a crisis failed, while others rose to the occasion. This truth is a universal one. Whether it's parenting, athletic performance, public speaking, or any other pursuits, there is nothing that tests us quite like having to step up and execute when everything is on the line. The same is true in youth ministry.
How many of you took the “Youth Ministry in a Pandemic” course in Seminary? Yeah. Me neither. The truth is that nothing could have prepared us for leading through and out of the pandemic that has plagued us over the last few months. But the crazy thing about a crisis is that it can help us rethink our strategy. A crisis forces us to do a level of triage on our ministries that, when done correctly, puts us in the position to come out stronger on the other side.
A Crisis Forces Us To Focus Our Attention
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to devote a ton of attention to our ministries. How are we doing things? How do we have to change? When COVID-19 hit, you had to ask these questions. Over the next few months, we’ll hopefully be asking, “what does returning to ‘normal’ look like”? That’s one of the silver linings of a crisis like the one we’re experiencing: it focuses our attention on our ministry strategy in an unavoidable way.
If you were in a position where, for whatever reason, your ministry had kind of been on autopilot, you no longer have this luxury. A crisis uniquely focuses our attention. But it’s what we do about it that defines us.
A Crisis Shines The Spotlight On Our Weaknesses
It’s impossible to hide when everything gets sideways. Your weaknesses are magnified. If your strategy was lacking before a crisis, it will only be highlighted in the midst of one. If you had a key area that had been a blind spot, a crisis shines the light on this blind spot in a way you can't ignore. And while this can feel a bit painful, this is actually a good thing. For example, maybe you weren't as good at communicating with parents and volunteers as you could have been. I promise you that when COVID began to impact your ministry, you felt this. Your weakness was highlighted. And the good thing is that you probably worked to strengthen it.
Each of us has ministry strengths and ministry weaknesses. We should ask ourselves what weaknesses we discovered during this crisis, how we are learning from this process, and what we can do to address these weaknesses moving forward.
A Crisis Elevates the Importance Of Our Calling
Our calling as youth workers is to serve God to His glory. That looks a lot of different ways. When things are going smoothly, we disciple, we empower, we hang out, we have fun . . . all of the more routine aspects of ministry. But in a time of crisis, the importance of our role as MINISTERS is elevated. In a crisis, the work we've done to establish ourselves as a trusted, Christ-centered relationship pays off ten-fold. Suddenly, we’re looked to for the more ministerial aspects of our roles. And one of the things we’ve seen is youth workers all over the world rising boldly to this meet this need.
One of the ways we can reconsider our strategy is to ask who among our people most need us to minister to them, what it looks like given the current cultural climate we find ourselves in, and how we can be consistent in our shepherding.
A crisis creates so much chaos. But a crisis also helps refine how we meet the needs in front of us. My prayer is that you see your role in a new way and strategically rise to the challenge to meet the needs of those around you.