We have the privilege of knowing and walking with many leaders in churches, non-profits, and businesses. Regardless of where we lead, the pressure rises in times of great uncertainty for everyone. Considering the recent pandemic, we asked a seasoned women’s pastor and leadership coach, Rhonda Began, to share her process of leaning in and navigating these uncharted waters. We think there is something here for any leader. – Jeff & Terra
When circumstances are overwhelming and we face uncharted territory, leaders move into triage mode, trying to meet needs and solve imminent problems. Our to-do list grows by 3 (or 10) pages and we question how we will get it all done.
In times of crisis, high level leaders might try to take everything on themselves, which eventually leads to being worn out and depleted (all in the name of “protecting” the team). Connecting with key leaders and trying to care for all the logistics of an organization is difficult, to say the least, even when the waters are relatively calm. Even then, we can feel inadequate, knowing that we can’t do it all on our own.
Add wind and waves to that water and you just might end up in a storm. With uncertainty and anxiousness circling us, we can forget that we probably already have teams of people we have trained and invested in, when times were calmer. We can forget that careful strategy and reliance on God’s direction are what will allow us to care for those teams and mobilize them to work alongside us.
As a women’s pastor in a large church, the wake of those I lead is pretty wide. Since most of the people on my teams are volunteers, knowing how to lead them well, keep them engaged, and maintain their health and safety can be especially tricky. What I have come to learn is that even in trying times, most people feel a need to “just do something!” My volunteers are wondering, “how can I help?” As a leader, we can either be the bridge between needs and helpers, or we can be the one standing in the way.
How can we care for our leaders?
1) Set a direction.
2) Provide support.
3) LET THEM LEAD!
As news of the recent world-wide pandemic rolled out, and difficult decisions were made, I sent an email to my ministry team coaches. These are all unpaid volunteers who care for and shepherd the key leaders of individual ministries, under the greater women’s ministry umbrella. As women’s pastor, I am technically the lead for all of them. My first instinct was to call my entire lead team to personally check on every single one of them and tell them the plan I had in mind for them as they walk alongside their smaller teams.
The more I thought that idea through, the more I realized the time and energy that would take. I could not possibly make those calls AND tackle the most critical things on my own list. Instead, I prayed. I asked the Lord to help me know the best way to act. As you read the email I sent below, hopefully you will see the strategy God and I came up with together.
Dear Lead Team:
I am sure each of you is caring for your own flock right now. Truthfully, I have experienced a supernatural peace and I am praying the same for you.
I also realized that I have been recovering from the huge onslaught of adrenaline from last week as I dealt with escalating uncertainty and made many tough decisions. As a staff and faith family we adjusted and readjusted many times. I gave myself permission to realign to the Lord and to focus only on the most critical things.
Today, I want to connect with you about next steps:
1. I would like to have a “Virtual” Coaches Meeting on Monday. Angie, my assistant, will send an invitation to the meeting which will include a link to connecting virtually. If you need any help in learning this technology Angie can help you. She will even do a test to make sure it works for you. Sandi, Angie & I already used “Google Hangouts” to meet earlier in the week and it worked really well.
2. I would like each of you to contact your coaching team (if you haven’t already) utilizing the “Touch Point Conversations” I shared with you. I have also copied it below. If any questions or information need to be passed on, feel free to call, text or email.
3. Once you have talked with your coaching team, send them the same touch point questions and ask them to contact their teams. If they are overwhelmed, help them to strategize how to divide up the calling.
I love you all and I am praying for you.
Touch Point Conversations: RHWomen’s Leadership
- Physical Needs – Do you currently have basic necessities met or do you have the means to get those necessities met? If not, what are those needs? (We may not be able to help everyone but if we know the need we can try.)
- Emotional Needs – Do you have others (family, community group, neighbors, etc.) around you that will prevent you from feeling isolated/alone? Are you feeling alone or isolated? (Being able to talk about how you feel can help. Offer to pray with them at the end of your conversations).
- RH Communication & Resources – Are there any communications regarding Sunday Services and other ministries that have been unclear or confusing? Are you able to access the Gathering online? (RH is working on providing online resources including prayer, study, gatherings for different age groups. They will let us know as those things become available.)
This email took me minimal time to write and send. Some of my coaching team had already contacted their own teams, as I suspected they would simply because that’s how they are wired. As they move forward to connect with those leads on their own, giving coaching and direction to their leaders, we are now able to reach over 250 people who won’t just get information, but will receive a personal touchpoint from our leadership.
I could have never done that on my own; it would have drained all my resources. Asking for help is not shirking our responsibilities.
Asking God for help to think about who is already in place to strategically multiply our efforts is vital. God doesn’t want us to figure anything out on our own; He wants to show us how to lead well by delegating to those He already put into place. When asking my lead team for help in the greater mission, I am also developing their leadership as lay-pastors who are fully capable of helping to care for our greater faith family. This is part of the intentional training for those on their teams as well.
Being a leader is hard, especially in these times of a world-wide pandemic. However, asking for help along the way is life-giving to sustainable leadership and teams. Win-Win.
Written by Rhonda Began, Women’s Pastor & Leadership Coach
Rolling Hills Community Church, Tualatin, Oregon