As CEO of Global Trust Partners (GTP), I dug into God’s Word for wisdom to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Three texts came into view. They are practical and applicable for CEOs worldwide.
Chart the Course
The apostle Paul was on the way to Rome when a storm came up. What should they do? The record of their actions in the storm in Acts 27:27-29 gives us insight in how to chart the course for the organizations we serve.
“On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.”
Notice the three things they did. Firstly, they assessed the situation. They took soundings. We need to do the same thing. CEOs must gather data and research to make thoughtful decisions about people and programs. Secondly, they acted with courage. They looked at what they had and threw four anchors over the stern. What do you have and how can you put it to work right now to help stabilize your situation? Thirdly, they prayed for daylight. They asked God to give light in the midst of crisis. Likewise, we must ask for wisdom from Go in these dark and difficult times.
After the Jerusalem Council, Paul and his companions were undoubtedly excited. CEOs and their leadership teams feel the same way after a great board meeting. They planned to take the gospel to Asia. In Acts 16:6-10 we learn how to steward change when God changes our plans.
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by…During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once..,
Notice the two things they did. Firstly, they submitted to God and passed by when God closed the door of ministry. That had to be tough for Paul and his companions. How is it going for you as a CEO and your leadership teams? Then notice Paul waited in a posture of submission. Are you waiting on God? What may He be trying to say to you? Secondly, they got ready at once. To get ready is to rally the provision to match the fresh vision. What are you telling your constituents? Do they know how you are pivoting programs during the crisis and how they can partner afresh with you? This is not about how much you need to meet budget. This is about how you will accomplish your purpose now and after the pandemic.
Put your House in Order
Paul wrote 1 Corinthians during the famine crisis in Jerusalem. In chapter 16 he gave instructions for participating in the collection for the starving Christians. But earlier in the letter, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, he makes this profound statement that every CEO must remember.
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
Notice, Paul says that those who have been give a trust, like CEOs entrusted with organizations, must “prove” faithful. They prove this by having accountability. Only when we are proven to be faithful will we be fruitful for God. How do we do that? In short, we make sure our house is in order with accountability.
In the USA, we make sure our ministry is following the Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship, and we verify compliance with those standards by getting ECFA accredited (or by getting accredited by the peer accountability group in whatever country the charity is registered).
From there, in crisis times you prove your faithfulness by reporting transparently to the board. You put to work what you have while encouraging staff and volunteers. You communicate with your partners and share how change has opened up new opportunities. You don’t spend money you don’t have, which means waiting on unfunded activities. And, you take time to discern how God may be redirecting you to accomplish your purpose with fresh partnerships and new audiences.
God has shaken the earth, and every ministry in it. Yet, Scripture offers counsel for CEOs in crisis. My prayer is that these tips will help you chart the course, steward change, and put your house in order with humility and confidence.
This article was originally posted on the Christian Leadership Alliance Blog on 6 May 2020. For more insights on this topic, check out the webinar recording of “Navigating the New Normal: Timely Tips for Boards, CEOs & Ministry Fundraisers for Global Application.”