“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
That quote was famously attributed to Rahm Emmanuel, then Chief of Staff for the Obama administration. While he was speaking of political power, the thought nevertheless applies to our businesses and careers as well.
We often see a crisis as a heavy, worrisome set of circumstances that threatens the status quo. It’s likely to create some significant change that could bring dire economic circumstances, shake up our comfortable routines, and open the door to a fuzzy but scary future.
A crisis is all of that.
Yet, if we respond effectively, it can be a watershed event in our lives and the life of our business – changing our course and opening up a whole new future of greater challenge, greater capacity, greater wealth, and deeper and broader impact. And the crises you may be in right now may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you.
I can say that with absolute confidence because the Bible tells me so, and because I have seen that Biblical truth manifested in my own life.
Let me explain. In the waning weeks of 2001, as the fear and depression caused by the 911 attacks weighed on the country, I, and thousands of other businesspeople, were in danger of losing our businesses.
As the country collectively coiled into the fetal position, the economy shut down. And that brought a business crisis of previously unknown severity. Our receivables were down to next to nothing, there were no inquiries for future bookings, our cash reserves were almost gone, and every speaking engagement for months ahead canceled. Not just the engagement, but the entire meeting or convention canceled. It was much like today.
We were fearful and discouraged. I told my employees that the next paycheck would be the last I could make.
Then, the Lord stepped in and took us through a process that transformed our business, changed our industry, and multiplied our revenue. One year later, we had changed our focus, doubled the size of our business, and laid the groundwork for multiplying our Kingdom impact.
Our present crises are eerily similar – a sudden event that brings the economy to a halt, spreads fear and anxiety, and prompts people to question the values on which they live. Today, we have the added pressures brought on by the rancor in Washington and the unrest among sectors of our society.
The crises are severe and, if you are in one of the sectors most affected, it is likely infecting you with doubt, fear, and anxiety. What do you do?
One of the things that I have learned is this: Often, the greater the crises, the greater the opportunity that lingers just around the edges of that crisis.
Here’s why. The size and potential of the opportunity often reflect the breadth and depth of the crisis. In other words, the more people impacted by the crises, and the deeper the individual pain, the more potential in the opportunity. It’s a matter of quantity and quality — if you can excuse those words to describe a crisis – of the discontent spread by the crises.
And, while there are segments of our population who have not been touched by the economic tremors, almost everyone is seeing their previously closely held values questioned, their lifestyles altered, and their worldview is shaken.
So, the breadth and depth of the discontent that boils to the surface is unprecedented in our lifetime and hauls along with it an equally unprecedented opportunity. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you respond appropriately, your life and your business may never be the same.
You are not likely to alter the course of our economy all by yourself. That is work so large that we’ll rely on God to do that. But you can contribute your piece of that. You can make a contribution to the Kingdom by focusing on the segment of it in which you find yourself.
When you search for and then realize the opportunity chained to this crisis, you’ll latch onto an opportunity to reshape your business or your career. And that is powerful and often life-changing.
But there is another level.
Some of you will see this as an opportunity to pivot and more firmly plant your business and career in the Kingdom. You’ll use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become not just a worldly success, but a powerful spiritual entity. You’ll understand that business is ministry and that you are the stewards of a potential spiritual juggernaut.
Each of us, with our own careers and business, are like small steams bubbling out of the ground. Individually, we may not seem like much, but we are important to the people who drink our water, and when we all join together, we can create a Mississippi river.
The key, of course, is you. More specifically, it is your set of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes – your paradigm as it relates to this crisis, and your role in the Kingdom.
If you believe that Christianity is defined by where you go and what you do in church, and that business has no part of it, then you’ll probably not step up and take full advantage of the opportunity on the other side of it. However, if you are aware of the role business and the marketplace play in God’s grand design, you’ll tremor with anticipation for what your career and business can be on the other side of this crisis.
Business is God’s first choice for a venue in which to interact with mankind, to bless people, to more fully develop creation, to build people’s character, and to impact their spirituality. It is a special ministry in the Kingdom, and you are a special minister. (See The Good Book on Business)
We know that God uses adversity to create leaders who then shape society. Think of Moses and 40 years of preparation herding sheep. Or Joseph, who spent years in prison and as a slave before the famine presented him an opportunity to become CEO of the largest enterprise in the world. Or David, who spent years hiding and being pursued by Saul before ascending to the throne and shaping the nation of Israel for generations.
Your time is coming. There is a world of challenge, impact, and fulfillment just ahead. The crises we are seeing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.
Early in the crisis, I presented a webinar entitled ” Transforming Crises into a Once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity.” In it, I tell the story of how God used a business crisis to transform my business and do substantial work in me. You can now watch the recording of that webinar free. Go here to view it.