Written by Shawn Naylor
As I write this, panic has gripped many nations around the world due to COVID-19. In Canada, professional sports, public entertainment, schools, churches, and numerous businesses have all shut down. People have reacted in fear—so much so that toilet paper became a highly tradable commodity after rumours spread about a shortage.
Panic causes us to make decisions we would never normally make. I also made fear choices during the first phase of the lockdown. The shelves at the grocery store were emptying fast, so I start putting things in my cart that were not on my shopping list. I brought different cuts of meat that my family never get. If I was not in a panic, I would never have made those choices. Needless to say, my wife doesn’t like it when I do the food shopping.
You see, if fear is the main driver in decision-making, we make choices to alleviate that fear, rather than dealing with the situation correctly. Some of you might have experienced seeing people leave your ministry over a crisis or divisive issue; you may still remember how it felt watching your leadership team shrink and shrink. In those situations, the natural response is to do things you think will keep people in your doors. It’s easy to react in a panic instead of leading.
When Joshua was about to embark on his journey into leadership, his predecessor Moses told him and the Israelites these wise words: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT).
I share these words with you as a source of hope in situations where there doesn’t seem to be a way forward. The first words in this statement are a directive and also prophetic, telling him that times ahead will be difficult. These times will be laced with unknowns, betrayal, sickness, lack of resources, and the list goes on.
Today, you and I are called like Joshua to be strong and courageous and to stand firm in the face of adversity. Moses’s advice is, “Do not be afraid and do not panic.” There is nothing worse than having to follow someone who is in panic mode. A person in panic mode becomes one who lives for self-preservation and who makes decisions based on fear, not faith.
When we have been called by Christ to fulfill a mission, we are called to lead out of trust that He who exists outside of time knows every step that you and I are going to walk out. The God of the universe can give us the confidence to act in faith, knowing He will never abandon us. Moses tells Joshua time and time again, “He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Whatever task God has called you to, you will not be missing materials for the mission. The apostle Paul tells the young leader Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV). This means we should lead in power and grace with clear minds, not minds full of fear.
Throughout the pages of history, I have seen that the leaders who are “all-in” will never be left behind by Christ. As we rely on Him, our capacity to lead multiplies. If God is for us, what can be against us?
Wherever you find yourself right now, in a moment of good times or in tough times, I bring you to this passage to remind you that in our humility, God is working out incredible things for us. Likewise, others are experiencing suffering, just as we are. So, stay firm in your faith and resist the temptation to panic.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world, ” (1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV).