You’re doing it!!! Congratulations is in order. You’re surviving a global pandemic, and that’s no small thing! 

Everything depends on how you look at it! Like your hair, for example. You can look at it and say I’m struggling. Or you can say, I’m overcoming some serious challenges. By God’s grace, I’m growing; personally, emotionally and spiritually.

If you’re like me, this season of upheaval has left you craving certainty. When is my area reopening? When will there be a vaccine ready? When will life resume some kind of normal?

The truth is we don’t know. No one does. But that doesn’t stop us from making choices. And that doesn’t stop us from taking action. I want to explore what kind of actions we can take to enhance our personal effectiveness, despite uncertainty. 

Uncertainty engenders fervency

Psychologists have noted across multiple experiments that after a prolonged period of uncertainty, especially one that is threatening; a natural disaster, a hurricane, a pandemic… both marriages and divorces spike. Why? Because both decisions: for a person to marry, or to divorce, are about certainty.[1] If the relationship is teetering on the brink, a major disturbance will send it over the edge. 

For better or for worse, pun intended.  

We crave certainty. We want answers and explanations for the way things are, and the way things will be. We desire resolution and finality.

After living through an intense period of uncertainty; where people have little or no control over the threat they’re facing, many people respond by doubling down on decision-making. I’ve had no control over my situation, well now I’m going to take control! 

But just because we are ready to take control and act, doesn’t mean we’ll make the right decisions.

Here are three decision making principles that will ensure your growth and effectiveness.

1. Proceed from faith, not fear.

This is going to mean different things to different people. 

If you believe in God, it’s pretty straight forward. Over the last few months, you’ve learned things about God’s faithfulness that you could not have otherwise learned. You’ve had to trust him in new ways, but you’re not being asked to do something you haven’t already done before.

If you don’t believe in God, I don’t mean to be cheeky but I need to say it: God believes in you. 

Further, God might well believe that now is a good time for him to introduce himself to you. 

But wait. 

If you think about it, you’ve had to make a lot of small choices to trust yourself, others, circumstances, the powers that be… just to survive the last few months. You haven’t had a lot of the information you want, to proceed in your business, your leadership etc.

Yet, you took a leap of faith.

And for that you should be applauded. Hey, it takes considerable faith to give your wife the razor and say, Honey, do me proud.

Now, the challenge is taking what you’ve learned and applying it to the future. Of course, this wouldn’t be difficult if the future was predictable, but who knows what’s coming next? 

Nonetheless, faith is being sure of what we hope for…[2]

While so much has changed, and your world is still in some form of flux, faith remains. 

Why? Because you’re still hoping for the same things! Personal renewal, spiritual revival in your church, restoration in your city. 

Assuming you’ve learned something novel about the character of God through this pandemic, you just have more reason now, than you did before, to trust him. 

2. Let your drive, design.

If you don’t know God, and don’t care to, or believe you can, don’t worry about it. I happen to believe that who you are right now, will drive you to design unlikely futures for yourself and others.

If you’re open to the future, you’ll admit that knowing God is not outside the realm of possibility. 

I’m going to leave this right here. 

I find it helpful to think about this season of uncertainty this way. We all have a drive; a distinct, inner compulsion that moves us forward. Our drive is determined by our self-identity (who we understand ourselves to be). While our drive is dynamic; ever developing or dissolving, this impulse is constitutive and compelling. Meaning, it’s what makes you, you. Your drive also gives you the ability to design unlikely futures, you never thought possible.

Your drive is the inner compelling to do the things you do, while answering to your values. 

For instance, I’m a pastor who is compelled to creatively communicate the hope I have in Jesus. Currently, I can’t do that in the ways I have before. Church is not going to look like church anytime soon. Yet, I am compelled to avail myself to any and every medium to communicate what is in my heart to share. That means I blog, vlog and design new expressions of the core drive within me.

3. The pivot needs to be planted.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in leadership circles, about the power of the pivot; changing direction while adapting to the circumstances. I think the analogy is a good one assuming the pivot foot is in step with the planted foot.   

Pivoting only works if you’re starting off on the right foot. Where are you planted? What are you all about? It’s a question of identity, more than a question of activity. The former always informs the latter. You need to know who you are, before you can offer the world anything.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a basketball analogy. 

On the court, you have the pivot at your disposal, but the pivot assumes you’re kind of stuck in the first place. You’re no longer in a position to drive the offense. You’re pivoting to find a prospect. 

Now apply this to life. 

If you’re just taking command from life’s circumstances, you’ll never be planted long enough to find an open lane to drive the basket. Overemphasizing the pivot, undermines what’s been planted in you. What do you have to offer, that only you could give? Your family, your friends, your church, your workplace, could really use what you have to offer.

In a hurry to adapt and change course, amidst overwhelming uncertainty you might make a number of errors in your decision making. You might ignore ambiguous information, stick to your preconceived notions, become dogmatic, or make rash decisions. 

But remembering where you are planted informs how you can pivot. Recalling your inner drive enables you to create and design. Leading from faith and not fear empowers you to trust that there is real, tangible hope for the world. 

   [1]  Jamie Holmes, Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing (New York: Broadway Books, 2016), 24.  

   [2]  Hebrews 11:1 NIV.