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Managing Madness

Jericho was one of those TV shows that you don’t forget. In the first episode, right after some kind of attack (possibly nuclear) has hit the United States, is a gripping scene we all hope we never witness. As you can imagine, everyone is trying to buy gas, the lights are out, and it is utter pandemonium. You think this will end in madness, until the mayor of Jericho has the presence of mind to stand up and take the leadership role everyone needs to see in the midst of the disaster. His speech is stirring, and brings everyone back to their humanity from the animal state they had been rushing toward. It set the groundwork for a community that would fight the challenges together, rather than fighting each other instead.

In any crisis, good leadership can make the difference between success and failure, life and death. The worse the catastrophe, the more this is true. When that time comes, are you going to hope that someone else rises to the top? Or will you prepare yourself now to not only be a survivor, but a leader who will help to shape the future?

To do so, you will need to develop the skills to manage and lead people. If you own a business or have a management role at work, you may already be a step ahead. So what does the 3 o’clock progress report meeting have to do with TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it)? What are you going to do when people begin showing up at your door looking for help? We’re not talking nepharious looters but friends and family, people who have nowhere else to go. Sure, you could turn them away. But is that biblical? And if they are willing to work, then they are able to benefit the whole group—that is, if you have some basic people management and organizational skills. In addition, other valuable skills include logistics, planning, forecasting, budgeting, inventory management—all these things revolve around the idea of limited resources. The more limited the resources, the more talented the management needs to be.

So now, if you are sold that you need to add “manager and leader” to your list of prepper qualifications, how do you go about doing it?

1) Study

Business leadership and management are not too far off from what you are trying to accomplish, so start there. Visit your local library, ask friends, or peruse business blogs to find the best books and resources about management and leadership—especially managing people and managing through a crisis. You might have to use your imagination to apply the principles, but you will see the application if you are looking.

Additionally, study people. What different personality types are there? What motivates others? You don’t want to mistake someone who is just a shy, introverted personality for someone who is sneaky and untrustworthy, anymore than you want to dismiss the loud boisterous nature of someone else for what could spiral into violent behavior.

And never forget the Word of God. Proverbs has much to say about both business and people, fools and wise people, and everything in between. Make it a practice to read at least a few of these daily and digest what they are saying.

2) Practice

Rarely (if ever) is someone able to master a skill from simply reading about it. Take the time to get out there and put your skills to use. Volunteer as a troop leader for the local boy scouts or girl scouts, sign up to be on the planning committee at your church, or even just spend some time at your city soup kitchen handing out meals. The lessons you learn as you meet people, hear their stories, and find ways to connect with them will be invaluable.

There are hidden blessings everywhere. In times of trouble are more opportunities for training. Events like Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and many more happenings going on every day cry out for the people of God to respond. Find a way to bring relief. Physically go and volunteer if possible. But if that is not feasible for whatever reason, gather resources, drum up support, or even organize a prayer group. Do something.

Also, consider more “business” type training. Participate in a Toast Masters’ club, or see what other resources are available in your community to learn money management, public speaking, etc. Even if the world does not fall apart, these skills will help you be a better and stronger person who can contribute more to your family and community regardless of the situation.

3) Build

In the opening story, the mayor of Jericho was successful not simply because he was a good orator. He knew the people he was leading. He was able to call them by name, recall happy moments together, and understand the fears that were leading them to act irrationally. You will be much more successful as a leader in challenging times if you have made the effort to build relationships in better ones. Do not wait until there is an emergency to meet your neighbors and connect to the larger community. Do it now. This may take a great effort for those of us who are not extroverted. However, which is harder—to go ask someone who is your friend if they are able to barter some flour for some tomatoes, or to approach a total stranger hoping they are not the malicious type?

As believers, we are called to be salt and light. Paul admonishes us to “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4) And Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us that “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” If we are to be the leaders that troubling times require, we must begin to prepare now. Not just with physical goods, or the know-how of survival techniques, but with the strength, maturity, and love to step into the void when the structures so many rely on today collapse. To bring together something new from the ashes that will shine the Messiah’s light to the world.

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