Leading in Chaotic Times

This is a special SharpeningLeaders post in response to COVID-19

Regular, everyday leadership challenges can be really stretching. When we add in the chaos, confusion and complexity of something like COVID-19, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.

So how should Jesus-centered leaders respond? What should we be doing?

I think we need to choose, by and with God’s grace, to Lead Different.

Proverbs 21:31 is one of my favorite verses, and it helps paint a picture of living and leading differently. It reads, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”

There are two important sides to this verse. The first part is about much more than fitting the horses with saddles and armor. Somebody needs to think about how to feed the horses (which requires farming), how to breed and train the horses, how to house and transport the horses and the list goes on.

Readying the horses is about wise preparation and diligent planning. It’s about stewardship, strategy, discipline and hard work. When we apply this principle to COVID-19, we especially need to be well informed and proactive in the best safety and hygiene practices as well as good communicators with all constituencies (staff, volunteers, participants, partners, venues, etc.).

Clearly, just like there are lots of steps to get the horses ready, there are very important proactive steps to respond to COVID-19. But remember, there’s another half of Proverbs 21:31. It reads, “…but victory rests with the Lord.” This doesn’t diminish stewardship of our roles in preparing the horses, but it does remind us that we are utterly and ultimately dependent on the Lord.

Knowing that “victory rests with the Lord,” we need to be choosing to trust our faithful God. Doing so helps us to lead differently by modelling courage rather than panic and fear. At times like this, Jesus-centered leaders especially need to be a calm and non-anxious presence in our anxious world. Knowing in whom we trust, we also need to be prayerful for those in authority, those serving on the front lines, those who are most vulnerable and those who need peace.

I want to share a recent prayer from my journal. It was written in a moment of personal chaos, confusion and complexity. It’s a live different and lead different kind of prayer. I’ve adapted it for whatever may be facing you today or into the future:

Heavenly Father,

Whatever happens today…
…it doesn’t catch you off guard.
…it doesn’t diminish your love for us.

Whatever happens today…
…you are still bigger.
…you are still in charge.

Whatever happens today…
…you can bring good from it and further your purposes.
…you are with us and for us.

Whatever happens today, we continue to choose to trust you.

We pray this in the name of Jesus—our sustainer, our guide, our provider and our protector,


Cheering you on as you seek to live and Lead Different,

Dr. Steve Brown
President, Arrow Leadership