DR. PHILLIP BRASSFIELD
Do you know where you are going? Have you thought, ‘What’s next?’ Has the pandemic that grips the world and all the changes it has demanded caused you to wonder what the future is going to look like? All this can leave you feeling overwhelmed, disoriented and anxious.
During seasons of transition, the chaos of the world around us can cause us to answer questions no one is asking or to focus on the wrong questions, which leads to confusion. Answering questions is part of what a leader does during these seasons. People need answers but they should be in response to the right questions. They should be filled with hope and offer solutions that provide light, direction and help to move us forward.
Here are three critical directional questions you can answer that are sure to help your people move forward in times of transition:
1. WHERE IS GOD IN IT ALL?
I have always coached leaders that in every circumstance and situation requiring decisions and leadership, first be reconciled to God! Before you speak – seek. Before you speak to others, seek God. Seek His wisdom, guidance and counsel. Look to the Scriptures. In uncharted waters and new seasons, the first and greatest question is this one: ‘Where is God in this situation and what does His Word teach us? When we ask this question, we will discover He’s where He has always been, doing what He has always done. I’m thankful for the Scripture in Malachi 3:6 where God gives us a glimpse into one of His fundamental characteristics when He says, “I am the Lord, I change not…”
While seemingly everything around us is changing at breakneck speed, and the lay of the land is changing like a land being torn apart by a massive earthquake, the Lord is not shaken. He is undeterred, undisturbed and unrelenting in His purpose and plan. The rhythm of His march toward His purpose is perfect in timing and strategy. Let the Rock of Ages be the foundation of your answers, solutions and plans. So, let’s settle that right up front. I’m with Him. I’m going where He is going and going to do what He does, no matter what changes are required of me. This attitude puts me in a flexible posture of humility, one which a servant assumes in the presence of His Master. As a leader in the Kingdom in times of transition, a sure attitude of success is to always consider yourself as second in command. Make sure the people know your position as second to the Lord. It will bring them great comfort.
2. WHAT IS ETERNAL AND WHAT IS TEMPORAL?
Many of the styles, techniques, and traditions we have held on to so tightly were never timeless; they were simply timely. They served a purpose and were even comfortable, but were not eternal. The word temporal is where we get our word temporary.
Great leaders in seasons of transition answer this question and help us discern the difference between what was meant to serve for a season and what was meant to last forever. For example, we often say we are committed to the message and use the method. Great leaders always keep that truth in mind and before the people. What is the difference between the core eternal message and the contemporary method that we use to share it? The first is a non-negotiable; the second is always up for discussion and reinterpretation. Asking the “eternal vs temporal” question is a great way to humble ourselves, and the methods we employ. It helps us stay grounded, keeping the main thing the main thing. It also encourages people to assume this posture as well. Too often we sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate. This is not a solid foundation and people will sense it. But when they know that you are always moving into the new with a strong sense of what really matters, they will follow you into an undefined future.
3. WHAT IS ESSENTIAL?
What are we commanded to do? Biblical Commands define our purpose; contemporary methods serve that purpose. Great leaders help us not to confuse the two. We say, and rightly so, the Word of God is immutable and unchangeable. Jesus himself said that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Therefore, when we are in seasons of transition, when we are uncertain about the future, we can ask ourselves, “Is there a command to follow?” Before we seek to lead, let us first seek to obey. Obedience is the best way to enter any uncertain future. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have clear commands to follow into every generation and circumstance. For example, Jesus came into the world and His first message was “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…”. In John 20:22, “on the same day Jesus was resurrected from the dead he said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit…’”. And in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. Christianity in any season is pretty simple: Repent, Relate, Receive, and Repeat.
During seasons of transition, things tend to move toward complexity and eventually anxiety. Great leaders calm their followers by simplifying the complex. Push toward simplicity. Identify what is essential and make it clear and simple.
There are certainly more questions that will need to be answered, but these three will give you a good start and will help to provide you a “God First” orientation. People move forward when fear has been overcome by faith – when they can see the future through your eyes of confidence. Let people know you have your future in focus, founded on these strong answers to fundamental questions.