How To Grow Resilience in Your Leadership and Church

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These are incredibly uncertain times to be leading in. Everyone’s resilience has been challenged as we have faced into uncertainty, complexity and growing anxiety. Not to mention the constant bombardment of bad news we are all exposed to now. Storms test our resilience.

As a church leader there are many things I could say about how faith in the storm and how we can stand strong and hold fast. However today I just wanted to share something that I stumbled across, not in my bible reading but rather in a 2006 article I read on the Harvard Business Review titled: “How to Evaluate, Manage, and Strengthen Your Resilience”.

Given the context of our season as leaders this felt very relevant and in it I found some simple and well researched tips that we can apply today. I’m going to take these truths and apply them in a faith context, though the content is universal.

In this article the author, David Kopans, makes the point that many organisations understand the importance of being resilient and apply specific methods to evaluate and analyse the financial resilience of the company or organisation. How often do we stop and evaluate our own personal resilience as leaders? So often we only bump up against our resilience when we find it lacking.

1. Build Positivity Currency

Research has apparently shown that personal resilience is primarily built on positive interactions, events and memories. These provide a bedrock that enables us to face challenges. Not only having these positive moments in our lives but also expressing regularly our thankfulness for them.

A number of studies are linked in this article that show that there are huge physical, physiological and social benefits to living a grateful life. Our immune systems are stronger, our blood pressure lowers, we have more joy and pleasure and we become more forgiving, outgoing and compassionate!

Creating this “positivity currency” also decreases anxiety and improves the quality of our sleep!

If you aren’t excited by this, then perhaps you have been oblivious to the challenges leaders are facing everywhere.

2. Write It Down

Another finding in this research into resilience is that these positive interactions work even more effectively when we put pen to paper and record them. The simple act of writing down the positive moments in your life, has been shown to cause an even greater impact on people.

I love the simplicity of this action. Something accessible to everyone. Write down the things you are grateful for.

3. Share It With Others

Looking at the social impact of building a “positivity currency” different research has shown that our own happiness is intimately connected to the others in our lives. We are not islands and the way we with interact with others changes us. When we invite others into this practice of building a record of positivity in our lives we actually increase our own resilience. The social sharing benefits us and creates a positive feedback loop. Everyone wins.

4. Reflect Regularly

So writing down positive interactions is key and so is inviting others to do the same. What is amazing though is that the simple act of reviewing what you have written has been shown to help people grow their resilience. Don’t just write it down but reflect on it. What we digest impacts us, positively and negatively. Apparently based on how positive or negative someones facebook feed is they can predict how positive or negative that person will be.

Building Resilience in the Church

When I read this I was struck by how clear the research is. Not only that but how I think it perfectly describes the kind of life Jesus would have us live. Life in all it’s fullness.

The theme of thankfulness is throughout the bible. The practice of journalling is well spread in many church circles. Having hope, faith and love at the heart of what we do is vital.

I enjoy it when science proves an ancient theme true.

Yes outside of faith there is a focus on positivity that is devoid of reality. However I think if we can navigate that with wisdom we will find there is much that aligns with scripture in the research that is coming out.

So how would I summarise these finding for us?

Put simply in a Christian leadership world – if we can focus on what is good, write it down, regularly reflect on that and invite others to do the same – we will become more resilient.

The storms of leadership will still come but we will be able to stand.

It is when we are stripped of good news, robbed of great moments with our family, and tossed around by circumstances that we struggle.

Keeping ourselves encouraged as leaders is not only a nice thing to aim for, it turns out it is vital if we are going to stand in uncertain times.

How can you keep yourself encouraged? Do you want to start a daily habit of writing what you are thankful for? Do you stop and remember those great moments?

Whether they are great times on holiday with your family or whether they are testimonies of God’s goodness and provision in your life, they have the ability to strengthen us in the Lord.

Beyond ourselves too, we are now armed with the knowledge that these practices have the ability to strengthen those we lead. It sounds almost too simply but it begins with thankfulness.

Something we can all do right now.

What do you think?

Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

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