Leading Through Adversity

Keith West, Founder & President

Times of adversity are catalysts for great leaders to emerge. Throughout history, spiritual leaders have risen to the challenge when faced with severe trials of various kinds. They did not do so alone, for they understood that God is always working, and that He is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV).

Part of our responsibility as leaders in difficult times is to practice self-leadership. A good starting point is to reaffirm our commitment to our true mission. Psalm 45:17 declares, “I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you forever and ever.” As ambassadors for Christ our highest aspiration should be to perpetuate his memory by sharing and demonstrating the gospel. With this goal in mind, here are some attitudes each leader can cultivate during this time of global crisis.

Be Hopeful

Scripture tells us that we possess a living and eternal hope. Our hope transcends seasons of financial difficulty, global crises, sickness, and even death. It is a hope that comes from heaven above and cannot be taken away by any earthly event or circumstance.

Hope is one of the eternal virtues that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. Christians of all people should be hopeful, because as the old hymn declares, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” We cultivate hope in hopeless times, not by ignoring global realities, but by choosing to embrace an eternal perspective and deciding to rest our hope on a sure foundation. Our eternal hope, placed in our hearts by God himself, is the unshakable anchor for our souls in times of adversity.

Don’t succumb to the fear and anxiety all around you. Share a message of hope in your community. Christ is your living hope!

Be Brave

“Fear Not” is one of the most prevalent commands of God in the bible. Throughout the pages of Scripture, we see God calling up spiritual leaders in the midst of troubling times and commanding them to be strong and courageous, and to quench their natural fears with faith in Him. God is willing to provide strength and courage, but He also expects leaders to exercise self-leadership by cultivating faith in the character and promises of God.

Courage and boldness are needed in times of adversity, and who better to lead than a person who receives their strength and boldness from God. King David exclaimed, “The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, NIV).

Be brave.Encourage yourself in the Lord. God will help you and others will follow you!

Be Kind

During the present global crisis, as people of all nations struggle to cope with the deadly COVID-19 virus, we are tempted to put our heads down and scurry through the necessary trips to supermarkets, post offices and hardware stores without ever uttering a kind word or displaying a friendly countenance toward anyone. We shun any human contact because we are distrustful, fearful, and simply trying to protect ourselves and our families.

Spiritual leaders must remember that the fruit of the Spirit does not wither and die during times of adversity. In fact, trials are a perfect time for the eternal fruit of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” to flourish and nourish others. When lack of civility, hoarding of goods, and self-preservation are the new normal , kindness has a preserving effect in our communities. It reminds us to be forbearing and understanding. It sets us apart as a community of faith who bears the countenance of Christ. Even during the COVID-19 epidemic, we are still commanded to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV).

Cultivate kindness. Demonstrate the mercy and forbearance of Christ, and allow God to encourage others through your godly example!

Be Generous

The best and worst of human nature is often displayed in times of crisis. We see selfishness and greed demonstrated as many people hoard goods and others attempt to take advantage of people for personal gain. At the same time, we hear stories of great service and self-sacrifice demonstrated in heroic ways that preserve our faith in the goodness of others.

One of the greatest moments for the early church in Jerusalem was an immense outpouring of generosity. Acts 4:33-34 states, “… God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” The wellspring of this generosity was not the human spirit. Rather, it was a powerful and practical demonstration of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit that impacted them all. In a time of great fear and uncertainty, the early church was moved to be generous in unprecedented ways. Anxiety was replaced by gratefulness.

Our Heavenly Father has generously offeredthe global church another opportunity to experience a powerful outpouring of His grace that immerses us anew with a spirit of generosity.What if the grace of giving extended beyond our congregations and spilled out into the community to meet practical needs and ease heavy burdens? Spiritual leaders should model a generous spirit and view it as an opportunity to demonstrate the grace and loving kindness of God. Defeat your own anxiety with faith and generosity. God will give you peace and joy as you demonstrate His generosity.

Believe God.Give sacrificially and cheerfully. Lead others to be grateful and trust God to supply all they need to be generous toward others!

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