Mar 7, 2021
Today on episode 85, I’m going to talk about how to inspire people to trust you and your leadership.
The pandemic is passing. People are getting vaccinated. Disciples are resurfacing and wondering, “Where do we go from here?”
Your job as a leader is to offer vision and direction to strengthen and rebuild your church. Many, if not most, of our churches are weak, lethargic and out of shape spiritually. Disciples have grown used to “TV church.” No travel, no trouble, no time spent setting up or breaking down the worship service.
For many of us, we don’t know how badly the pandemic has affected the spiritual health and condition of our churches. We don’t know exactly how things will be different going forward. All we know is it will be different, and we are in charge of helping people get back on their feet spiritually. I’d like to offer some ideas from Nehemiah on how to inspire your members to trust you and your leadership during the cleanup and recovery phase of COVID.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. Nehemiah 2:17-18
Nehemiah faced an overwhelming task: Rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem. The people were demoralized, dispirited, and beaten down. He not only had to get them to do the physical work involved, but he also had to get them to trust him that things could change for the better. Let’s find out how he did it.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Nehemiah 2:17
Nehemiah could have arrived with a big smile and big talk that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Instead, he started with a sobering assessment of the situation:
He knew that pretending that things were better than they were would cause people to distrust him. Instead, he connected with people by acknowledging what everyone knew. They were all in big trouble.
It’s tempting during this time to inflate our progress, cover over our weaknesses, disappearing disciples and lack of evangelism. Your people know that this pandemic has taken a toll on the church and by trying to paint too rosy of a picture, it will cause people to distrust your leadership. Instead, acknowledge your current situation. That helps your members know that you are seeing what they are seeing. Without being pessimistic or “gloom and doom,” tell the truth about the state of your church.
My church will be returning to live meetings this month. However, before we do that, I will be having a family talk at midweek with the entire church. I will be laying out the true condition of the church. I will be sharing that some people will not be coming back. A number may not return to live meetings for a long time. I will be talking about the drop in Bible studies. I will talk about how difficult it will be for people to overcome inertia to start leaving their homes. I will compare it to going back to the gym after not working out for one year. It’s not easy and it’s not fun. There will be a lot of grumbling and griping. Nevertheless, once we push through the pain, we will feel better and stronger about ourselves as disciples and as a church body.
Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Nehemiah 2:17
Nehemiah called people to act. He offered them a massive task and a motivation to do it; we will no longer be in disgrace.
Your members need you to call them to rebuild your church. You are the voice they will listen to. Here’s what people need now:
Set up a clear plan to revive your church. Make it simple and not too complicated. Set a low bar that most can achieve with a little effort. For example, in Tucson, I’ve started with the following:
Rob’s March Plan
18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. Nehemiah 2:18
After bringing the “bad news” and calling people to action, Nehemiah encouraged his people with how God had already answered his prayers and was clearly supporting Nehemiah’s efforts.
Your people need to know that you:
Once this has been laid out, you must inspire people to trust in God and you by sharing how God has already been moving in your life. Encourage people and share about God’s power. Let them know about times in the past when he has brought you through challenging times.
Every time we meet together, I pull up stories of how God has moved in my life and heard my prayers in difficult times. People need to know that they can trust my leadership.
Your people are looking to you. They want to trust you. They want to trust that God is working through you. Imitate Nehemiah’s example to inspire trust:
Encourage people with stories of how God is and has worked through you before