Finding Our Bearings in a Crashing Economy

March 28, 2020 • De Pree Journal

A Series from De Pree Center for Leadership

Curated by Michaela O’Donnell Long

Pick your metaphor. Our heads are spinning. We’ve just jumped out of a plane without a parachute. We are drowning. We’re in uncharted territory. We’re in a blizzard. Things are completely upside down!

At the De Pree Center, we exist to help marketplace leaders integrate their faith and work. For most of us, integrating our faith and work looks drastically different than it did just a month ago. A global pandemic and crashing economy rightly catalyze urgent questions about our businesses, our leadership, and our livelihoods.

So, at the urging of one of our board members, I put out a call to some friends of the De Pree Center—marketplace leaders, pastors, scholars, and trusted advisors. I asked them a series of questions based on scenarios that represent people I’ve talked to in the last couple of weeks. Respondents sometimes picked a particular question to respond to. Other times, they responded more generally. Here are the scenarios I gave them:

1. I’m a business owner. I can read the writing on the wall.  It’s possible that we’re not going to have the cash to pay our vendors or our people. We could have to do layoffs. We could lose the business. What wisdom do you have for me? How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions?

2. I’m a manager at a company. I think I’ll survive the economic fallout of the pandemic, but I’m sure I’ll have to let people on my team go. I might even have to let them go over video or phone call. What wisdom do you have for me? How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions?

3. I work at a company and my job doesn’t feel secure right now.  Everyone is panicked and I’m working remotely. How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions?

4. I’m a freelancer. My work is already drying up. I’ve got three months backup, but then I’m going to be in a tough place. How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions.

5. I work in an industry that’s shuttered because of the pandemic. I’ve been told to go home (without pay) for the foreseeable future. How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions?

6. I’m a pastor. If people aren’t coming to church, they probably aren’t giving. I’m worried about my own job security and my team’s. Plus, I’ve got all these people who are dealing with layoffs or having to close their businesses. How does our faith inform this moment and my decisions?

I’ve curated their wisdom in this series called Finding Our Bearings in a Crashing Economy. The individual pieces are:

  1. Staying Calm When the Worst is Yet to Come: Inés Velásquez-McBryde
  2. Stewarding Power in a Pandemic: Denise Daniels and Elaine Howard Ecklund
  3. Care and Curiosity in Chaos: Lisa Slayton
  4. Do the Right Thing: Roy Goble
  5. An Opportunity to Rethink Faith and Work: Denise Daniels and Elaine Howard Ecklund
  6. Don’t Go it Alone! Mark D. Roberts

I pray that in this time you know you are not alone. Yes, the world is upside down. Yes, there are unprecedented challenges. But, we also have opportunity. Our story is one of hope in the midst of suffering and death. We have the tools to do hard things, together.

Dr. Michaela O’Donnell Long is the senior director of Fuller’s De Pree Center for Leadership. She is also the co-founder of Long Winter Media, a creative agency that helps brands make an impact. Michaela teaches as an adjunct professor of Practical Theology and Leadership at Fuller.

You can read her bio HERE.


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