Good planning isn’t our idea, it’s God’s idea. Read through the Bible and it quickly becomes apparent God has a plan. God’s plan informs and guides salvation, the Church, the future and much more. So whether we face times of certainty or uncertainty, it’s prudent to have a plan. The need for good planning quickly becomes heightened when we face challenges and crises, like we are today in light of COVID-19. In fact, it’s possible—even probable—your best laid plans are now “on hold” or possibly “out the window” as you scramble to develop new contingency plans.
To help you Lead Different and to remain Jesus-centered during this time of crisis, here are three simple yet effective “S’s” to help guide you in developing contingency plans.
1. Safety – Looking to Jesus and the example he sets for us, Paul drives home an important principle for us: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
In other words, in crisis we begin with a focus on safety—the safety and well-being of our staff, clients, vendors and so on.
What decisions need to be made and what changes can you implement to protect and preserve your people? What will keep them safe?
Think in phases—an immediate phase that begins today and may last for the next 2 to 4 weeks. A second phase may begin a month out and last 2 to 3 months. And then a potential third phase that looks further and what may be needed beyond 4 months from today, if the crisis looks like it will extend well into the future.
2. Stewardship – Effective contingency planning next focuses on “calculating the cost” (Lk. 14:28) and stewarding resources (Lk. 16:10-12; 19:11-18). Every organization stewards or manages many different resources—money, people, time, facilities, technology, etc. It’s important to manage these resources well, especially in the midst of a crisis that could translate into reduced resources.
Conduct a quick current status report of each area of your resources. Then consider your current levels of usage while also taking into account both savings you may have due to a slowdown or an increase in usage if you anticipate using more of your resources. Based on your current and future usage, how long will your current resources last?
This will help you determine adjustments to make to ensure longer-term viability. Again, it’s helpful to think in terms of phases, starting with today and the next 2 to 4 weeks as phase 1, followed by phases 2 and 3, looking further and further into the future.
3. Service – Crisis means change—change that wasn’t necessarily anticipated or even wanted. But such times of change can create new opportunities to innovate and serve the needs of others around you. “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13). Serving others may involve sacrifice, but a crisis presents an unplanned opportunity to serve those around you. What are needs you and others are facing you are qualified and equipped to meet? What resources do you have that would help those around you? What knowledge and experience do you have at your disposal that would make a significant difference for others? Crisis is often a time of turning inward, focusing on our own needs. However, as Jesus-centered leaders, we can lead differently during challenging times by looking beyond our own needs to the needs of others (Rom. 15:2).
Cheering you on,
Dr. Rick Franklin
Vice President, Arrow Leadership