A few weeks ago, my family found ourselves in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history. We live in Katy, Texas, one of Houston’s many suburbs.
For five days, we sheltered from Hurricane Harvey, experiencing 9 trillion gallons of water dump over southeast Texas and leave a wake of destruction in its path. While my family is among those whose houses are not damaged, all of us have been affected by this storm’s devastation to our home, the community in which we live.
Yet the Katy community has rallied together to recover. One of the biggest reasons for this is that Katy is filled with great leaders who have led well in the weeks following the disaster.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I have witnessed great leadership in action. Here are 5 actions that I’ve seen these great leaders take. You can apply these practices to your leadership at work, home, community, and church.
1. Great leaders pray for wisdom before taking action.
The call to leadership is a supernatural calling. Whether you lead a family or a large organization, you carry responsibility for multiple people. Every person who you are responsible to lead is a gift from God to steward.
This is a huge burden to carry. Great leaders know that this burden is too great for any fallen human to bear on their own. Just as the call to leadership is a supernatural calling, so also the empowerment to carry the burden must also be supernatural.Leadership is a supernatural calling that requires supernatural empowerment. Click To Tweet
That’s why great leaders pray for wisdom. Before they take action, they humble themselves and admit their own inabilities. They acknowledge their dependence on God and then depend on Him in their actions.
Prayer isn’t something they do because it’s expected of them. Great leaders pray because they cannot NOT pray.
They invite others to pray for them as well. They share their weaknesses, insecurities, frustrations, and fears with people whom they trust.
Leadership necessitates humility. The ultimate act of humility is to kneel before God and scream, “Help!” Great leaders scream this a lot.
2. Great leaders turn prayer into action.
Leaders don’t only pray. They take action. They make decisions. They mobilize their followers.
People with praying hands should also have dirty fingernails. Their hands are simultaneously folded in prayer and working with God to accomplish His calling.
Great leaders don’t just do something. They pray. And they don’t just pray. They do something.Great leaders don’t just do something. They pray. And they don’t just pray. They do something. Click To Tweet
3. Great leaders unify people.
Here in Katy, Texas, organizations have banded together around Hurricane Harvey relief. Pastors and school leaders and government officials are all working together. All of that unity started with a few great leaders who led the way in unifying these groups.
Great leaders unify people around a common cause. This doesn’t mean that great leaders don’t also cause division. Jesus brought division (Matthew 10:34). But great leaders know there is no place for division in the center of a crisis.
While we may not be able to control the external forces of an explosion, we must rally together to prevent the internal threat of implosion. Explosion alone is devastating. An accompanying implosion would be eradicating.
Jesus understood the crises of His time and the importance of unifying people toward a common vision. A vision of life in the kingdom. A vision of Him as the King of the universe. Maybe that’s why unity for His people was one of His last prayers before His crucifixion (John 17:22-23).
His vision unified fishermen and tax collectors and prostitutes and government officials. His vision unified Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.
Great leaders — like the ones in Katy, Texas — unify people around a common vision.
4. Great leaders submit themselves for the good of the vision.
One of the most encouraging stories from this disaster is the way in which churches around Katy, Texas, have come together. During this time, every church could have gone out on their own and done their own disaster relief. But unified efforts multiply impact.
Rather than each church acting on its own and trying to accomplish its own mission, many of the churches have submitted themselves to an outside organization, Texas Baptist Men (TBM). TBM knows how to mobilize people to “muck out” houses and to meet needs in a disaster.
Church leaders unified and submitted themselves to the knowledge and experience of TBM. Church leaders let TBM guide the unified efforts because they have the knowledge and experience to know what to do.
Great leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. They know that they don’t always need to be the person in charge.
Great leaders are willing to submit themselves to the leadership of others in order for the common vision to be accomplished.
5. Great leaders give space to grieve and hope.
In the midst of disaster, it is easy for people to lose hope. In fact, the trauma, grief, and hopelessness in this area are palpable. It’s also easy for people to see all of the needs and not give themselves permission to slow down and grieve.
Great leaders give people space to grieve their losses and traumas. Life is filled with loss and trauma. The leader has responsibility to keep people moving toward the vision even when loss and trauma occur.
But great leaders know that the vision can’t move forward if people aren’t allowed the time and space to grieve.A vision cannot move forward if leaders don’t give people time and space to grieve. Click To Tweet
Simultaneously, great leaders provide hope. They are purveyors of hope. The word “purveyor” isn’t used very often. It means someone who “provides, furnishes or supplies a need to others.”
Great leaders provide hope to people even when things seem lost. My pastor, Dr. Jim Leggett, provided hope to people in his sermon on the Sunday after the disaster. He provided hope with this little formula:
Jesus > Harvey
Mattress Mack, founder of Gallery Furniture, provided hope to people when he opened the doors of his furniture stores so that the displaced could have a place to stay. He let flood-weary people sleep on his pristine mattresses. He spent $40,000 each day to keep the stores open to evacuees. That provides hope! CBS This Morning told his story.
Life is filled with trauma. Great leaders give people space and time to grieve and hope.
But it doesn’t take a crisis to be a great leader. These 5 practices of great leadership can be practiced every day.
Question: Which of these 5 actions will you start practicing this week?