How can I provide leadership in a crisis?

Obviously, there are many types of crises in the life of a congregation. Each crisis may demand a specific "tailor-made" response. But there are some general guidelines that relate to crisis and leadership.

Jesus modeled what should be our first response -- that of presence. He simply was there in those times of crisis. The incarnation of Jesus, God with us, is a vivid example of God's willingness to come among us. It is imperative that we follow this model. Our presence is more powerful than our words during these times. But, we must realize that we are not omnipresent. Even Jesus missed the early part of the funeral ritual for his friend, Lazarus. Sometimes, we simply cannot and should not be physically present. We must accept this fact. However, good leaders prepare others to help fulfill this role. Presence is critical in leading during crisis.

The second key at times of crisis is relationship. Ideally, the relationship should develop before the crisis so that we can provide a natural extension of caring. We also can provide relationship by connecting people in existing relationships with those people in crisis. As much as professionals may be helpful, the comfort of a friend is severely needed.

Leadership understands that we will usually survive a crisis. A leader must plan ahead for the time after the crisis has passed. We can facilitate the steps to resolving crisis by anticipating the next phases of returning to equilibrium. Long term care can be provided when we anticipate the critical steps that will mark progress in processing the crisis.

Good pastoral leadership during a crisis will build a high level of appreciation and respect for a pastor.