Remove Your Vice-Grip!
Americans have an addiction to certainty. We love to plan, and we love to have backup plans. We love to have insurance for when our plans and our backup plans don’t work out. We find peace in knowing what to expect and when things are going to happen.
We don’t like mystery, being in the dark, or not knowing what is to come.
COVID-19 has challenged us all in ways we could never have predicted. The level of uncertainty that it has thrown us into has confronted us harshly. When the pandemic first hit, many of us thought we knew what it was like to be flexible. We thought we would be able to wait out the storm of this virus. Maybe by summer life would be back to normal. Then, we hoped by fall all would be as it should be. But none of our predictions came true. And so in uncertainty we remain.
We made plans for summer holidays. They had to be canceled.
We made plans for our kids to go back to school. But many of them are still at home or are wearing personal protective equipment to class.
Many of us are still working from home and holding meetings & conferences virtually.
All of the plans we had made for 2020 have been put on hold or forgotten completely. And it doesn’t feel good.
We cannot give up on making plans.
That is not in our DNA – as a culture or as human beings. However, we have to find a balance between making plans and committing to them wholeheartedly and being paralyzed by fear and inaction during these unprecedented times.
It’s time to “hold plans loosely”. It takes practice and emotional stamina, but it can be done.
How? Here are 5 tips:
Go ahead and make a plan.
Yes, that’s right. Even in these uncertain days, do your best to make plans for your life and ministry, even if you don’t know how things will turn out. Take the information you know today and the results you can reasonably predict for tomorrow and craft a plan that will help you and the people under your leadership to take positive forward steps that will bring meaning into the life of the church. Perhaps the plan will include fewer financial resources, fewer volunteers, or fewer options than you would normally have. However, remember your vision and mission, and then make a plan that remains consistent with your calling, and do your best to make it happen.
Have a backup plan.
The global pandemic has taught us so many things. First and foremost? The lesson that plans change. As you’re making your plans for the rest of this year and early next year, create a Plan B. And a Plan C. And maybe even a Plan D. Consider what you will do if your original plans don’t work out. Make sure you have contingencies in place so that funds are not wasted and people are not damaged. Knowing that you have alternate plans ready to be put into action will put those under your leadership at ease as you try to re-open your church and all the ministry activities that go with it. People are raw emotionally right now. Backup plans will help them feel confident and secure in these difficult times.
Plan for disappointment.
When plans don’t work out, there is more than just a logistical toll to pay. There is an emotional toll as well. Holding plans loosely means taking an emotional inventory and recognizing that disappointment may come when plans don’t materialize as expected. As a leader of people, it will be your responsibility to help those under your leadership deal with that disappointment in a productive manner. Be ready to listen to people as they process their disappointment. Be ready to see them, hear them and understand them when plans fall through. Be someone they can count on when the rest of the world looks like it’s falling apart.
It would be easy to become a cynic during the planning process. However, holding plans loosely means adjusting expectations so that your emotions are not driven by whether or not a plan comes together. Your outlook can remain positive even when things are canceled. You can become a beacon of hope for those who are drowning in a sea of weariness. Cynicism will kill hope quickly. Instead, holding plans loosely will help to rid your emotions of cynicism and give you a sense of perspective that will give your people confidence and courage in these dark days that we continue to face. People will know that life will be okay even if the plans we’ve made don’t work out in the end.
Know that God is in control.
Ultimately, as Christians who believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God, we must remember with every plan that we make, God is in control. By holding our plans loosely, we are actively acknowledging that God may have better plans than we could ever imagine. He makes everything work for good in the end and we must humble ourselves to accept His plan, His timing, and His way. Being willing to surrender our carefully laid out plans for God’s plans ultimately brings Him glory and points others to Him.
Our plans may not work out. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taught us that. However, if we are willing to hold our plans loosely, bring hope to others, and trust that God’s plan is best, we can move forward with confidence and joy and lead others in a way that glorifies our Father in heaven.