I haven’t met one person yet who has told me that they could have anticipated the events that have shaken the world in recent days. We live in times of disruption and instability where the only uncertainty we have is continuous change and where our national leaders seem incapable of finding answers to the challenges that confront us. In addition, we are realising that what got us to where we are now, will not be capable of taking us to where we want to go.

It seems that this very situation is creating a crisis in leadership for how can you lead when you can’t see what’s ahead and don’t know what awaits you tomorrow and what resources you will have to face tomorrows challenges.

My thoughts have recently turned to the early church where we read that in its early days unexpected “persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”   Acts 8:1-3

How do you lead in such an out of control time as this? And where does our sense of security come from when much of what we have established is destroyed or in today’s world, is in lockdown? And where is God and how can He be in control in the midst of so much destruction and upheaval? What does leadership look like in such a situation where disruption is normal?

In my senior years and at such a time as this, I have found great comfort and perspective in Psalm 11 where David speaks from a time of great distress and asks the question, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” And he realises he has two options. “In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: ‘Flee like a bird to the mountain.’” He had two choices; to stay put and flee to the Lord or to resign from his position of leadership and hide away in some retreat. He desperately needed to find perspective as do we when our foundations are being shaken.

I want to suggest a few ways in which we might find perspective in today’s world of upheaval and destabilisation as we learn from God’s ways and the leaders He used to navigate through times of instability and complexity.


“In the Lord we take refuge!” Our God is the sovereign God who is working out His Kingdom purposes, sometimes unseen by us, in the midst of a disruptive world. It was the very persecution that disrupted the early church that advanced Jesus’ great commission purposes as Christians were caused to move out from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and ultimately to the utmost parts of the earth. It was this very persecution that raised up Saul, the man who was being shaped by God to lead the missionary charge of the church to ever increasing frontiers. It is at times like we are now experiencing that we need to be reminded that “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and neither are God’s ways our ways.”


It is in this very time of insecurity and instability that God creates an environment that causes people in the world around us to see that they are building their lives on an unsatisfactory foundation. The gods of this world are exposed for what they really are and are found wanting and unable to fill the God shaped vacuum that exists within each person.

These are the worst of times but these are also the best of times. God is doing a new thing and it is the discerning leaders who are realising that they were never called to pastor a congregation and spend much of their time within the four walls of their buildings; they and their people were called to pastor a city. And with the closing down of activities in churches, it is causing Christians to spend time in their neighbourhoods, fulfilling Jesus’ words to be salt and light in the world in which they live.
Jesus modelled such a life for us when He said to the Jewish leaders, “My Father is always at His work…… I tell you, the Son can do nothing Himself. He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all he does.” John 5:19-20


To lead in an uncertain, unpredictable world requires leaders to follow the model of Jesus by developing an intimate relationship with the Father and walk by faith into the unprecedented future partnering with Him in the things that He is doing. These leaders will find their identity in who they are and not in what they do; they will be characterised by humility and a dependence on the faithfulness of God. Much of their growing and learning will come from the school of suffering and from mentors who have passed the tests of God to be approved and entrusted by God with the purposes of God. Growth in character will be high on God’s agenda.
Leaders who have been entrusted by God will find themselves travelling on paths they have never travelled before, doing things they have never done before, reaching people they have never reached before. They will boldly respond to the prompts of the Holy Spirit and their churches will be characterised by the power and presence of God. People won’t be attracted so much to a denomination as they will be to a church that reveals the presence of God

The very environment that has caused leaders to lose control in this world of unpredictability and instability is the environment that will result in God taking back control of His church with amazing results.
This is the church for which Jesus will return to take as His bride to live with for eternity. And it would not surprise me that it is such a time as this that His return may be imminent.

In Summary:

Leadership In Times Like These will belong to leaders:

  • who will have found themselves out of control due to the instability and uncertainty of the world in which they live.
  • who surrender leadership to God and restore a relationship of intimacy with Him to discover what He is doing.
  • who realise that what got them to where they are now will not get them to where they need to go.
  • who realise that we are living in the worst of times and the best of times.
  • who realise that the very climate that has created a world of insecurity and fear is the very climate that will see the church of Jesus Christ at its best and an instrument of revival in the surrounding world.
  • who will be shaped in God’s school of suffering and pain to develop the necessary character needed to be a leader in God’s great purposes.
  • who have a teachable spirit to understand the new things God is doing and who walk humbly so that when people see them they don’t compliment them on their leadership but they glorify God for who He is and what He is doing.
  • who realise they have been called to pastor a city and to equip and lead their people out into the city to be salt and light and agents of influence in the world in which they live.
  • who realise that the greatest need of the church today is the presence and power of God.
  • who are not involved in a career from which they will ultimately retire, but are living out a lifelong calling that will last as long as the gift of life that God has entrusted to them.
  • who live their lives with the expectancy that Jesus could return at any time.
  • who will one day say, as Jesus said,
    “Father I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”