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04 May '14

Ministry whiteouts

Posted by T.J. Addington in burnout, crisis

Those who have ever experienced them know that whiteout conditions are dangerous. And they can hit suddenly leaving one with a sense of sudden fear and wondering where the road is - or isn't.

This is not unlike crisis we face in our ministry lives. A pastor returns from a conference and finds that the staff have essentially staged a coup! A moral failure of a leader or staff member turns everything upside down! A budget shortfall creates a crisis! Someone you had relied on and trusted turns on you and uses what they know about you to hurt you!

A whiteout is when life comes undone and it can come undone in many different ways. The result, however, is uncertainty as to where the road is and how to maneuver so that one does not end up in the ditch or tangled with another car.

The thing about whiteouts is that there is a period of time when you really can't do much except to pull over the wait till the blowing snow conditions let up. You cannot deal with what you cannot see and there is often a period of time when things are not clear: they are ugly but not clear!

Because things are not clear this is a dangerous time. If we act we may act badly or unwisely. This is a time not to act but to let stuff clear enough that we can see some of the road ahead. It is time to "Be still and know that I am God," and trust Him in spite of the anxiety we feel. Just as it is dangerous to keep driving in a whiteout, it is equally dangerous to act in a crisis before one has a handle on what all is happening.

Once the whiteout conditions start to let up, proceed with caution. Our anxiety pushes us to make hasty decisions which may or may not be in our best interests. This is a time to think, talk to key advisers and keep your options close to your chest as a leader but not to act precipitously.

When Nehemiah was threatened by Sanballat and Tobia when rebuilding the wall, he prayed, rallied his people and answered these guys without fear. He read through their motives and plans because he did not panic and responded appropriately. He also knew that only God could protect his reputation so he continued to do what God had called him to do and left his reputation to God.

Whiteouts require all the wisdom one has. Part of wisdom is to trust God, not to panic or act out of anxiety, to seek the wisdom of others and to do what God has called us to do. It may not end up the way we wanted it to but we will have handled ourselves with honor, integrity and faith. And in the end, that is what matters.

(Posted from High Point, NC)