These are anxious times. The corona virus earthquake hit with an 8.0 magnitude and tsunami sirens are blaring warnings of economic and social destruction that may soon come on shore. Many of our congregants are dealing with very real fear, frustration and fatigue. In these anxious times an important responsibility of a renewal leader is to be the non-anxious presence bringing calm, hope and faith-filled peace.
Here are 7 ways leaders can reduce anxiety in anxious times:
1st: CHOOSE FAITH OVER FEAR
Reducing anxiety begins in the leader. If you are vibrating with anxiety, your anxiety will inevitably vibrate out to your congregation. Someone said that you can ask people to do many things for you but you have to believe God for yourself. Every day leaders must embrace God’s hope for themselves.
2nd: BE THE SPIRITUAL ADULT IN THE ROOM
In a family, children pick up their emotional cues from the adults around them. When adults are at peace children experience peace as well. A key role of a leader in anxious times is providing a mature presence. You must choose to demonstrate faith in God even when you’re struggling to push back fear.
3rd: URGE PEOPLE TO PRAY
Prayer is the most important weapon in battling fear. Paul said in Phil. 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Prayer reminds us that we are not in control but, with God, nothing is out of control.
4th: PROVIDE YOUR FAITH COMMUNITY WITH FAITH RESOURCES
This is an important time to provide your congregation with faith resources. One possibility is developing a “top ten” list of Scripture passages to be placed in a Bible or posted on a refrigerator that undergird our faith in God in anxious times (i.e. Isaiah 43:1-2, Duet. 31:6, Matt. 6:25-34, John 14:27, I Peter 5:7 etc.)
5th: REFOCUS YOUR CONGREGATION’S GAZE
When we focus on ourselves, we’ll quickly begin worrying about the harm that could befall us. Will someone I love get sick? Will I lose my job? Will there be enough groceries to feed my family? But when we focus on the needs of others and seek to serve them our personal anxiety is pushed to the back seat.
6th: CREATE A SAFETY NET
The congregation should know that their faith-community has their back. They should know that “we are in this together” and if a crisis hits no one will have to go it alone. Having said that, this is an important time to quickly build systems that regularly check in on people to identify emerging needs.
7th: STAY CONNECTED
Anxiety increases in isolation. When people are alone with their thoughts, they begin to imagine the worst of scenarios. An antidote to fear is connection. It’s important to stay connected even in a time of social distancing. Leaders must develop plans to stay connected with members no matter the challenges.
May the words of I Peter 5:10 encourage us, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”