Crisis Leadership: 5 Things NOT To Do

I first wrote a post like this in 2010 following a huge flood that devastated our county. As a pastor of a large church, we were called upon to help our community in recovery efforts. Almost 10 years previous to that, I served as vice-mayor of our city when our downtown was destroyed by a tornado. Now in 2020, I find myself pastoring again – in a different church – in the midst of another crisis.

I frequently encourage leaders to copy principles not practices. But the principles in each of these times of crisis remain the same.

The main takeaway for me is that the way you respond as a leader will almost always determine the quality of recovery for the organization after the crisis.

No doubt you’re well underway with your crisis leadership, so I may be late to the party for COVID-19. Something tells me thought that there will be other times we will need these principles. In the next few posts, I want to re-share some principles I have learned on how to respond during crisis times of life.

I will start with the negative, because typically we begin there when crisis comes. This post will be followed by some ideas of what you should do. Then finally, I’ll share some thoughts on what to do after the crisis period has subsided.

Here are 5 things NOT to do in times of crisis:

Panic. The word panic means “a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior” (Dictionary.com). If you panic when crisis occurs you’ll almost always make bad decisions and cause yourself more pain. Calm down, think and pray so you can make wiser decisions. There is always time to pray.

Quit. When I was in a business that was struggling the worst reaction to my situation was to run from the problem. And, sadly, I did this one frequently. I would disappear for hours. Looking back, it never solved anything. Reflecting on those days, I wish I had stayed the course, because when I gave up, so did those I was supposed to be leading.

Blame. Figuring out who is at fault when you are in crisis-mode is probably not as important as figuring out what to do next. There will be time to analyze later — and that should happen — but don’t become paralyzed with it now. (This includes kicking yourself for being in the crisis.)

Refuse Help. I have learned by experience that, when God is allowing a crisis to occur, He is also stirring people to intercede on behalf of the suffering. It’s amazing how it happens. He may have prepared someone else, through their own season of crisis, intentionally so they can help others.

Don’t deny someone their opportunity to be obedient to what God calls them to do. That may mean swallowing your pride, raising the white flag of surrender and letting them help.

Deny God. People either run towards God or away from God in times of crisis. You can probably figure out which option works best. This is a time to learn to fully rely on God. He’s never taken off guard or by surprise. He always has a plan. It’s always good. Lean into Him.

In my next post, I’ll share 5 things TO DO in times of crisis.

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Ron Edmondson

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