Perhaps the best book I’ve read since the start of the pandemic is Mark Sayers’ A Non-Anxious Presence. Sayers describes how we’re currently living in a gray zone moment: the world has changed, and we do not yet know completely how, or what, the world is changing into.
In gray zone moments, we seek out comfort and security in “strongholds” that have brought us identity and “safety” in the past. However, they fall short in the new context we’re finding ourselves in. And the result is anxiety. Sayers writes, “Most understand that the world has changed. However, the sheer rate of change has left many disoriented. We, too, have been left with a sense of the potent chaos in the world. We are not as in control as we thought. We are left with questions of how to lead at such a time when the rules seem to have changed” (p.20)
Sayers spends time looking back at how we’ve arrived here, and some time describing the current landscape. And then, he highlights how this is a time of opportunity.
We don’t grow when we’re comfortable. It’s in the “wilderness” where God grows leaders for the Church.
“Leaders move people toward growth. Comfort zones insulate us from development” (p.109).
God is at work during the anxiety-filled gray zone moments! He is growing leaders who will lead with a non-anxious presence in the midst of change and seeming chaos. These leaders are able to lead with a non-anxious presence because they encounter and are refreshed by the presence of God (p.145).
Our churches and our people, and I would add, our society, need us to be leaders who live daily in the presence of God. Our identity, our strength, our wisdom come from Him. As the psalmist declares, “He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him…” (Psalm 144:2). Keeping our eyes on Jesus in the midst of the storm is the best thing we can do for the people whom we lead and serve.
“In an anxious, crisis-driven environment, the leadership leverage comes from a non-anxious person” (p.100). We become non-anxious persons by living and leading in the presence of God.
EFCC Prairie District Superintendent