A note from Kelly King: I haven’t met a leader who hasn’t experienced leading in the midst of chaos—whether it originates from work, home, or in the local church. As Sheila West explains today, it’s not if we will face chaos, but how we respond to chaos that can make the difference.
The responsibility of serving and/or leading in ministry does not happen in a bubble. The reality is that life doesn’t live up to our unrealistic belief that says if we believe in God, if we are good, and if we are about our Father’s business, life will move along smoothly. We all have our share of chaos surrounding us. It comes in the form of family crisis, health issues, financial challenges, and fear of the unknown. Even the challenges of handling the good things like weddings, vacations, or building a new home create their own brand of chaotic circumstances.
It has taken me way too long in my journey to see responding to the chaotic situations in life as an intentional, pre-determined response process. Maybe these insights will give you a jump start on your own way of being prepared to respond when you find yourself having to maneuver through chaos.
1. Intentionally do a “reality check.”
Taking time to clarify what is happening and reassessing what needs to happen can keep us from rushing into the chaos or being paralyzed from not seeing a way to effectively handle the situation. This is a time to bring clarity to what is happening and what needs to happen and to evaluate the reality gap between the two. Don’t get lost in the sea of frustrations and disappointment and fears. Clarify what is important to God, to you, and to the people who are most impacted by your choices.
2. Intentionally give yourself permission to have an emotional debrief.
In the midst of all the confusion, the emotions, the fears, and the hope, there is a need to honestly let it all hang out. It is so freeing to understand that the emotions you experience when life changes catapult you into chaotic circumstances don’t mean your faith is faltering. It means you are real. So it is an important part of the process to give yourself permission to experience the mixed emotions that are bound to come—temporarily. THEN, take a chill pill.
3. Intentionally take a “chill pill.”
For me, taking a “chill pill” translates into taking a hearty dose of God’s Word, letting it settle into the crooks and crannies, slowing down the frequency of internal chaos, and stimulating the right thoughts. It is living in the reality that Christ is in you. It is an awareness of His presence that reminds you that you’re not alone. And it is listening for the increasingly familiar unction in your inner most being that gives you confidence He is speaking. We can’t give to others daily and not take time to replenish. This is faulty thinking. Jesus knew taking time to withdraw and spend time with His Father kept Him connected and able to “chill” and function in the midst of chaos.
4. Intentionally develop an action plan.
Chuck Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” We can’t control all life circumstances, but we do control how we respond. We have choices to make, and we need to see how they work together. The reality is there are times that the personal chaos might require us to step aside or to take a leave. But more often we have to prepare to maneuver through the personal chaos while still honoring commitments. Taking time to develop a plan (no matter how simplistic it is) for what is going to be required of you in your personal situation is important. Then you can acknowledge your own limitations in that matter and also in how you can function in ministry. Wisely choose those with whom to prayerfully share your personal needs without making them the center focus of ministry. Then create a plan to fill in the gaps of expedient ways to move forward in ministry while empowering others to come alongside, remembering that you nor your ministry has to do it all, all at once.
5. Intentionally smile.
Outlook is half the battle in a chaotic situation. Be real and don’t dismiss the seriousness of your personal situation. But you can live in the reality that “God’s got it!” Rest in Him, relax as you keep functioning, and learn to express a real smile, putting yourself and others at ease and allowing everyone to focus on the work rather than the emotion.
God’s got it! You aren’t responsible for the outcome of your personal situation or the ministry results. As we study the life of Jesus, we see how to keep on keeping on when our world turns topsy-turvy. We learn that there is a place for our emotions and a proper way to deal with our own pain in life. We learn to know we are in the center of God’s purposeful plan. We learn the importance of maintaining daily intimacy with God. We learn that we cannot function in our daily assignment without daily connection with our Father. He holds the key to keep us together even when we are falling apart.
Sheila has been involved in women’s ministry for over 35 years, serving as Director of Women’s Ministry for over 20 years in the local church. She is presently on staff at Heritage Community Church, Fruitland Park, Florida as Director of Administration as well as serving as Director of Women’s Ministry. She is the founder of Real Living Ministries, a speaking, teaching, and leadership development ministry to women. Sheila is also a contributing author to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised and Expanded edition. She is the author of Beyond Chaos, and is a LifeWay Women’s Trainer. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two and proud grandparents of seven.