Leadership in Adversity

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Adversity is inevitable in life. As a leader, you can either give in to adversity or take advantage of it.

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:5).

Adversity invites leaders to lead. It is your time to trust the Lord and lead by faith, not fear. In hard times a leader asks, “Will I panic or pray?” “Will I stay calm or be sucked into the chaos?” “Will I serve the team or stay secluded in silence?” Jesus faced death, but He was determined to stay focused on His heavenly Father and the mission at hand. Adversity is an opportunity to prove the point of Providence. Christ is in control.

How can you use adversity to your advantage as a leader? One way is to unify the team around common objectives and goals. There is no better way to bring people together than in the fires of hardship and difficulty. In fact, you probably will not succeed without the team rising to its next level of leadership and team support. So reward creativity, because limitations lead to innovation. Lead the team to accomplish more with less. Paul said, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses” (2 Corinthians 6:3–4).

Moreover, use hard times to create a culture of hard work and honesty. It may mean longer hours and less pay, but sacrifice is the price to be paid for productivity. Invite honest feedback so you accurately and effectively improve process and products. Raise team expectations beyond just surviving to thriving. They look to you for leadership; so lead.

Lastly, serve at home and work with appreciation. It is easy to demand more and more while under pressure and forget to say “Thank you.” Perhaps you give the team a day off, leave a grateful voicemail, buy everyone lunch, or send flowers. Wise leaders honestly inquire, “How can I out serve others, especially in the face of misfortune?” “Where do I need to take responsibility, not blaming outside forces?” Leaders model the way.

Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

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