I’ve Got Bad News: Things Aren’t Getting Easier (5 Things Great Leaders Do in Hard Times)

leadership Nov 10, 2022

It is never around hard times that a leader grows the most, but through them.

That’s true about life and that’s true about leadership. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

The last few years have been hard times to lead through. Many of us are desperate for some relief. But I don’t think relief is coming. In fact, the next couple years could be more challenging than the last few.

So, what do we do? Here are 5 things great leaders do through hard times. So that as we lead into a divided, desperate, fast-changing future, we can go beyond surviving and make a difference.

5 Things Great Leaders Do in Hard Times

1. Maintain values

While it may be normal for many who are featured on television to modify values as the times ebb and flow, may that not be you.

Instead, when more chaos is swirling around you, step back and revisit your values.

These are your anchors in the storm. They don’t change. 

Unfortunately, though, the temptation to take a short-cut or to make an expedient decision that is “morally complicated” will grow with each passing day.

But great leaders know that the way they lead is just as important as where they lead.

You may not know what the future holds (you never did, by the way), but you do know what God has called you to: Love Him, love people, and make disciples.

2. Evolve

When you lead through hard times, you’re going to learn some things about yourself. You’re going to learn that you’ve still got plenty to learn. You’re going to learn that what got you here may not get you there.

So grow. Evolve. Change.

Your values don’t change. But you should. Why? Because we’re all on a perpetual journey of continual growth. At least we should be.

In the past, you may have avoided preaching on controversial topics. But could we be in a time when it would be wrong not to speak to the issues of our day from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective?

In the past, you may have been able to lead adequately from your experience and your education. But now you may need to ask for some help. You may need to get a coach and let them guide you.

3. Coach the Coachable

If the battle against cynicism has been heating up for you, it’s likely that you’ve been focused on a lot of fires needing extinguished. It’s likely that you’ve been dealing with some abrasive people. 

Our focus naturally goes to the negative feedback and the negative people giving it. And I’m not saying we should ignore them. But if that’s all we’re paying attention to, we’re setting ourselves up to go mudding in terrain that will take us out.

So don’t ignore them but don’t pay as much attention to them. Take the feedback you need, bless them in the name of Jesus, and lead forward. And the way you do that?

Coach the coachable. You have people in your church who are coachable. You have people in your church who are ready to run with you. 

But you’re going to have to find them. And even if it’s a mere few, start there.

Disciple them. Equip them. Send them.

4. Fight for Joy

You’ll be tempted to fight people. Instead, fight for joy. 

Your calendar will want to bust at the seams. But you’ll have to fight to maintain healthy boundaries and healthy rhythms. 

In difficult seasons, your emotional and physical energy can get zapped. So you have to counter that with life-giving activities. It’s a battle.

With every difficult conversation, you’ll have to work that much harder to practice differentiation. And last time I checked, in hard times, difficult conversations happen more often.

Get a journal. Use it.

Date your spouse. Schedule it.

Play with your kids. Do it.

Get a hobby. Prioritize it.

Ask Jesus for joy. He’ll give it.

5. Be stubbornly curious

Curiosity is fuel for creativity. And whether you think of yourself as creative or not, you are someone who creates. You create sermons, connections, and care-filled conversations. You need to be stubbornly curious.

In difficult times, people need leaders to be outside of the frenetic fray that tends to consume the masses. But it’s not easy. In fact, it takes a truly stubborn curiosity to keep asking catalytic questions when it seems everywhere you look people are in a spiral of negativity and despair. 

So how do you become and stay stubbornly curious?

  • Read widely
  • Habitually ask questions (Why? Why not? What if?)
  • Listen to the Spirit
  • Listen to people
  • Actively record ideas
  • Actively pursue ideas (experiment and execute)
  • Take more walks
  • Keep a journal 

We are living in a time of massive change. But faith-filled stubbornly curious pastors won’t change for change sake. They will lead their people into a mission-fueled future.


Things likely aren’t getting easier. That’s okay. Jesus is still on the throne. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

So what should you do?

  1. Maintain values
  2. Evolve
  3. Coach the coachable
  4. Fight for joy
  5. Be stubbornly curious

And may I add one more thing? Take heart. He has overcome the world. Serve Him well, friend.

[Free Download] The Intentional Pastor's Roadmap

There's a reason 80-85% of churches are either plateaued or declining. One word: leadership. Or to be even more specific: a lack of leadership.

Too many pastors in too many churches are living Sunday to Sunday. They go an entire year without any distinct focus beyond making sure Sundays happen. 

And their leadership team? They provide minimal leadership help.

But that doesn't have to be your church's story.

In this Roadmap, I'm going to show you the path to lead with clarity and direction.

Click here to get your copy of The Intentional Pastor's Roadmap.

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.