Full disclosure here. Ever since the COVID-19 crisis has been brewing, I have been praying not just to “flatten the curve” but for the Strong Name of Jesus to #breakthecurve. I believe the curve and the coronavirus will be defeated and that this is the Church and Christian ministries finest hour. And, that also has a specific application for Christ centered higher education. I have been “living” in Psalm 91, Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:10-20, and John 10:10 from the beginning of March, 2020.
It is true that we are in the middle of a storm. But, living in the midst of a storm is not how we plan and conduct our lives. Living in the storm means that we also recognize that there is a life after the storm. Leaders traffic in hope. Because of that, the words we say and the visions we project are magnified during a crisis. While we all are grappling with the very real circumstances of a storm of death and disease, I also believe God is calling Christian leaders to boldly shape our churches and institutions for His glory so that both IN the storm and AFTER the storm, we are demonstrating the power of life in Christ to a world watching and desperately needing Him.
I think at least 4 major things, captured by 4 words, are happening in our nation right now in the midst of the crisis that provide a real opportunity for growth and learning. Those “4 Timely Words” matter now more than ever.
REVEALED. God is in the revealing business. I am not saying that He caused the coronavirus. I am saying that He is using COVID-19 to experience, in real time, the realities of our families, our churches, our organizations, our economies, and our nations and world. What is God teaching you and your teams right now. What is being revealed now that you did not know or listen to just 3 short months ago? What an opportunity we have! That leads us to word #2.
RESET. In light of what we are experiencing, every business is a start-up now. Every family gets a “do-over”. Every organization, church, government gets a “real time” tape of its relative strengths and weaknesses. We are in a storm, no doubt. But, we do not plan the rest of our lives based on living in a storm. What are we learning now that simply must be reset in the future?
What will you personally, and what will your school organizationally RESET in the days ahead? I’ll write more on this later, but from the beginning I had our teams begin to think in 14 day/60 day/long term categories. We already have had many things revealed that we want to change and we want to reset them in the future, but to be frank we still are grappling with many unknowns. But, I know there are more to come. I am trying to be ready. Which leads me to word #3.
REENTRY. My friend Kris gave me this word. He is a great teacher and leader and as soon as he said it, I knew it was true! As I write this, I have no idea how long we will be in the storm of this crisis or how great the storm damage will be. But what I do know is this: We have seen the future in glimpses and have no idea what it will actually look like. There, I said it. There are no guarantees about today, tomorrow, or next week or month (and there never have been!). And now, to word #4
REVIVAL. I have longed for days of revival to return to America and the world. I’m convinced that the Father longs to have us, His children, running to His arms. I’m convinced that having no other option but Him is a good thing. I’ve been reminding our campus community that we partner with the Father, not with fear. Could it be that a great spiritual awakening would come to the church in this, a storm filled hour? I say YES! I believe that unlike 911, when church attendance across the country returned to “normal” a short time after the event, this time it could be different. What will that take? I think it takes us being willing to hear what God is saying in the midst of all this. Are we willing to humble ourselves before Him, repent of our wicked ways, and call out to Him?
I know we are in a storm. But, I know who calms the storm. I do NOT know the future of Christ centered higher education in terms of the various forms of it. But what I DO know is the ONE who holds the future, holds our institutions, and holds us as leaders. These are our greatest days and your institution needs you to lead with clarity, hope, joy, love, compassion and wisdom IN and AFTER the storm has passed. Lead well!