Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!
— Proverbs 3:5-7 TM
These words can be wind in our sails and adrenaline in our spiritual veins during times of uncertainty and change. When life gets crazy and disruptive, we don’t have to be the one to figure it all out. God will lead us and all we have to do is simply follow him and look to him for the direction we need to live and lead.
In these days, as we learn to lead ourselves, our families, churches in transition, and regions filled with congregations looking for guidance, we must tune into what God is saying and rely upon Him for the direction and wisdom we need.
Four qualities of those who LEAD during times of change and uncertainty
It’s been said that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Unfortunately, it has been true in many cases.
Listening is in short supply while there are ample people hungry for a listening ear.
Not all listening is created equal. There are three levels of listening and they all have their place. Level one is internal listening. There you are listening to yourself, the voice in your head and what’s going on “in” you.
Level two listening is focused listening with the direction on the others person doing the talking. It’s being with to person or persons you are listening and paying close attention to their words, emotion, and even what’s not being said.
The third level is global listening which goes beyond the words to the environment and what’s going on in the context. It’s where the Holy Spirit speaks and you pay attention to what He’s saying.
Listening is not a skill you learn by reading about it in a book but it’s a muscle that grows stronger with use. If you want to know how you’re doing, ask those closest to you how well you listen to them without interrupting or giving advice.
Empathy is the process of getting inside another person’s frame of reference – it’s where you feel what the other person feels. Brene Brown suggests that sympathy is feeling bad FOR someone else while empathy is feeling bad WITH someone else.
During times of change people need leaders to be with them in their struggle and identify with them in their pain. The first thing they need is not instruction but a heart connection. That’s what empathy provides.
When change occurs, it’s possible that some level of trauma is experienced. There’s capital “T” trauma and small “t” trauma — and in both cases, empathetic listening is a gift we need to receive.
Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” — Dr. Peter Levine
In addition to measuring a person’s IQ and EQ (Emotional Intelligence) they now measure for AQ (Adaptability Quotient) when hiring. It’s the ability to determine what’s relevant, to forget obsolete knowledge, overcome challenges, and adjust to change in real time.
Those with a high AQ are open-minded, view situations from the perspective of others, develop new skills in order to prepare for an uncertain future, and are in high demand.
More than ever, during times of uncertainty, we need to be flexible and able to pivot both our thinking and our doing. The fourth quality goes hand in hand with adaptability.
Leaders dealing with uncertainty and change are growth oriented. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset which says, “I have all I need to meet the challenges.” A growth mindset says the opposite, “I don’t know how to meet this new challenge, but I’m doing to grow and develop so I can figure out what to do!”
When COVID hit, the churches and leaders who survived and thrived developed new ways of thinking and acting so people could connect and grow. Going virtual was a steep learning curve for most leaders but the ones who survived, adapted and embraced a growth mindset.
How you LEAD will define the impact you have and the legacy you leave. The good news is we can choose how we will LEAD. The fruit of listening, empathy, adaptability, and development is changed lives that starts in us and radiates out to those we love and serve.
Take a few minutes to reflect on these three questions: