Root of the Matter: Leadership During a Pandemic

In a personal essay entitled “Root of the Matter: Leadership During a Pandemic,” Letitia shares thoughts on the challenges that leaders face, particularly during the current pandemic, and considerations to keep in mind as we embark on the next phase of changes. 

Palm Sunday Amid COVID-19

Palm Sunday Image

13 “[They] took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him and cried out: Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” John 12:13, 15

As our world continues to grapple with the fallout from the outbreak of COVID-19, the places, events, and activities that typically have our attention have moved to the backs of our minds. Many of us have turned our living spaces into classrooms, cafeterias, rec centers, and offices. Not only have our physical spaces changed, but our mindsets have had to change, too. From figuring out how to use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, AND Go To Meeting (because the three meetings you attended in one day each used a different platform 😊) to learning how to access your tools and files in order to get work done, many of us have had to rewire our thinking in order to keep up with our work responsibilities. Friend, to be honest, I would not be surprised if there are some among us who became exhausted over the past couple of weeks just doing the work to get settled into this temporary reality- while working. Let that sink in for a minute. We are inundated with so much information that it can be a bit unsettling if we’re not careful. Every for-profit and non-profit industry has been upended by the devastating health crisis and many businesses are taking the opportunity to pivot their service offerings to meet the needs of people who are directly and indirectly affected. (Ruby’s Pantry from Ruby Tuesday’s. Look it up. Be amazed by this fabulous idea.)

Now, before I go on, let me say that I do not for one second minimize the dire nature of what is happening outside the walls of my home. The medical community is waist deep in the trenches of saving lives. Essential personnel, volunteers, nonprofit organizations and church outreach teams are on the frontlines of making sure that people have the food, transportation, and access to goods and services that help us accomplish our activities of daily living. Religious organizations, employers, organization decision makers, educators, and facilitators are taking the reins online to make sure that those who are not directly affected by the outbreak are kept safe, engaged and focused on what’s important to them. This global shift in how the world turns is not without its challenges, but it is certainly for our own protection. And I am mighty grateful for and prayerful for the people who are on the frontline of handling the matters associated with the outbreak.

Life is in flux right now. The world is on the world stage as nations across the globe work to get a handle on containing the spread of COVID-19 and saving the lives of those who have tested positive for it. The fallout is a shared experience for people across the globe.

I’d like to highlight another experience that is shared across the globe. The observance of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is a Christian feast that takes place the Sunday before Easter. (This year, in the western hemisphere it is observed Sunday, April 5th and in the eastern hemisphere it is Sunday, April 12th.) It is a time set aside for Christians all over the world to reflect on Jesus’ victorious entry into Jerusalem as King. As Jesus road in on a foal, the people celebrated Him by throwing palm branches and their cloaks on the ground while crying out “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. King of Israel.” Hosanna is a Hebrew word that is translated to mean “Lord, save us” and is said to express special honor to the One who saves- Jesus Christ.

The depiction of what happened at Jesus’ triumphant entry can be found in all four Gospels-

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Luke 19:28-40

John 12:12-16

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 2.2 billion Christians around the world. That is nearly one-third of the world’s population of 7.8 billion. Over the course of the next several days, the cherished opportunity to reflect on Christ as King will be what unites us around the world. Not calamities…not our troubles…not the clamor of life- but Jesus Christ. So if you’ve been fearful, anxious, unsettled, or even angry at the state of our world and possibly the state of things in your life, I invite you to switch things up a bit and focus on Jesus and His rule as King. When Christ is the head of your life and the decision is made to let your heart be ruled by His teachings, I am a witness that you will experience hope and peace that will hold you together during the darkest of days. If you don’t know Jesus as Savior, try Him. If you know Jesus as your Savior, trust Him. In the days ahead, take some time to honor Him as the One whom God sent to save us.

2020: Looking Ahead

IMG_0984

Fall is comfortably underway. The air is cooler, the leaves are colorful, and harvest-themed porch decorations abound. Football games, homecoming celebrations, and autumn festivals have added highlights to this time of year. Now, as we’ve entered November we are in that sweet little spot before our collective attention turns to the year-end holiday hustle bustle. In the time that leads up to the holiday frenzy, there is an opportunity that can help you have a new year unlike any other.

As we get closer to January 2020, the national conversation will no doubt relate the year 2020 with the measurement for visual clarity: 20/20. We can almost be certain that the year 2020 will be chock full of motivation to help you get on course and stay on course to achieve your goals. If you have not taken the time to get clear about your purpose or areas of your life that are meaningful, now is a great time to do just that.

To boost your efforts, I’d like to share five quick tips to help you prepare well and STICK to your goals in the coming year.

S- Slow Down. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” If you are not clear on your purpose, it is highly likely that you are moving through life much faster than you should be. Slow down and, if you have to, stop. Take time to catch your breath and organize your thoughts. Make quiet time with the Lord a priority so that you can pray and not only be revived in the presence of the Lord, but also become clear on the next important steps for your life.

T- Think. Think about where you are in life and where you want to be. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Too often we let life take over and we get cheated out of experiencing the abundance God has in store for us. It is never too late to take stock of your life and dig in to making God’s plan and purpose your reality.

I- Investigate. Once you have become clear about your purpose and have taken stock of where you are and where you want to be, it’s a good time to investigate the steps you will need to take to get there. Philippians 4:9 says “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” There is a lot that we can learn from each other. When we are open to learning from others and making changes to succeed, it can certainly go a long way. People who are living their God-ordained purpose in life know the steps to take, the pitfalls to avoid, the resources to use, and the mindset to cultivate when it comes to following God’s unique plan. When we organize these things and take action, the results can be extraordinary.

C- Change your Calendar. This next tip is pretty radical but can have lasting results. In 2014 I was caregiving for my husband who had, by then, been enduring a health challenge for several years. I always enjoy working in the community and serving in my church, but by then, I was so stretched out that I finally had to stop, think, investigate, and ultimately change my calendar. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” After taking time to pray and getting honest with myself, I rotated out of several organizations and responsibilities and made a promise that I would only serve in one community organization and serve where critically needed in church. Not only does this practice keep me from becoming overwhelmed, but it also helps me to be of good service to the organization and responsibilities that I have. I am able to focus and give intentional time to the few causes that I am working with. I can give my best to help the church and community organization do their best work for the people we serve.

K- Keep on Course. Hebrews 10:36 says “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” This encouraging scripture highlights the reward of staying the course when distractions and adversities come. We receive God’s promises. Peace of mind, an abundant life, strength, refreshing…too often, again, we fall for the devil’s tricks and miss out on these things that are available to us.

There you have it. A few tips to act on before the flurry of holiday activity begins. When we settle in to trust God deeply and keep on course with what we have learned, instead of derailing our goals by January 31st, we can greet the year 2020 with clarity and with a prepared heart and mind to STICK to God’s plan the whole year through.