Over this past year, we have had to pivot—in our personal lives, as religious leaders, and in our organizations. We have found ways to be resourceful in ways we didn’t know we could. Perhaps we have even sensed a capacity to be resilient in order to navigate intense and unforeseen challenges. Resilience is often understood as the capacity to “bounce back,” but I prefer to think of it as the ability to return again and again to what matters. In other words, to cultivate resilience, we must practice pivoting.
I remember the moment a clergyperson said, so matter-of-factly, during a retreat: “If it weren’t for the congregation, I’d be a great leader.” We all broke into laughter. Most of us wanted to believe it. But as pleasant as the fantasy of leading without anyone else interfering may seem, we can’t lead without a context and followers. We lead imperfect people in imperfect institutions—imperfectly.