As we come out of the other side of Covid-19, I realized that I have relearned a number of valuable lessons from this crisis.
Let me set the stage…
It was January 2020. I was reviewing my strategic plan for the upcoming business year. I was excited about the potential opportunities and growth in our business sector. The pipeline was already filling up for sales & 2020 looked like it would be our best year ever.
From every angle, our business looked healthy. Our marketing & sales team were cranking and performing well. Our financial numbers looked great. Our systems were running smoothly. We had 3 months of financial reserves in case of that unexpected emergency.
Less than 3 months later our business was on the edge of collapse.
How could this happen? I thought we had a secure and stable business. What should we have done differently?
Over a year later I am thankful that our business did not die. By God’s grace & the generosity of our team, we are looking forward to scaling our business up again.
But what did we learn through this time when nothing went according to plan? Here are 5 important lessons that I learned from Covid-19.
Lesson #1: Everything is in God’s hands & control.
Before Covid struck, I was starting to get in a comfortable position where I thought I was in control of my business and the future planning. I was following all of the “man made” advice for business growth. Frankly, I thought that I had “figured it out”.
Then the pandemic happened!
In April of 2020, I remember taking some time to think about life & where the business stood because of Covid. The Lord brought me to this verse in James:
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Covid has re-taught me the valuable lesson that Toby is NOT in control. Jesus is in control.
We may have the best plans in the world but if they don’t line up with His will, they are ultimately nothing.
Lesson #2: Ask yourself: ‘Where is your trust?’
The second lesson I learned was about trust. When everything is running smoothly, it is easy to start to trust in your “man made” security. You trust that you have put enough money in the bank to carry you through, or that you have hired the people who can pull off a win.
As you become more successful in business or ministry, you can start to put your trust in those things. Yes, they are good things BUT no, they do not deserve your trust.
Covid reminded me of the verse in Psalms.
Ps 20: 6 & 7 Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
I never want to trust in my “chariot”…my business. The business is a gift from the Lord & a tool for His Kingdom. My trust should be in the Lord and in NONE of His gifts.
We trust in the name of the Lord – Jesus!
Lesson #3: Wise planning is important.
The third lesson that I learned was more of a practical business lesson. Even though our business was almost crushed by Covid, I realized the importance for wise planning.
I was so grateful for the board members who had encouraged us to set aside “reserve funds” just in case something went wrong. Over the past few years we have made an effort to set aside over $190K which was just enough to keep our doors open.
This careful planning reminded me of the story in Genesis.
Gen 41:34-40 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
My finance director also spent some serious time planning out the next 6 – 12 months to make sure we were able to control spending and continue to survive.
No matter what business you are in, you should take the time to plan. We want to plan for normal business life, for growth & for the unexpected.
Lesson #4: People before Profit.
The fourth lesson was not something we learned but was a core value that we decided to hold on to. It would have been a simple solution to just let all of my team go.
We decided to make the harder decision and try to keep our local team in place. From a financial point of view, this might not have made sense BUT these are our family. We have history together. We have done life with them.
Yes, this decision meant cutting back on salaries & work hours but at the end of the day, we were able to keep all of our local employees.
Lesson #5: Work is a gift from God
The final lesson I was learned was that work is not something we dread but it is a gift from the Lord.
As a result of Covid, many were without work & felt a little purposeless. You might have thought it was because of the need for finances but people need meaning in their lives. They need to do something with purpose. They need work.
I think some people believe that work is a result of the curse. They think that the best thing in life is to have free time to just do nothing.
Not so! One of the first things God commanded Adam was to take care of the garden. He gave him a job – and this was BEFORE the curse. Work is ordained by God & is a good thing.
Covid-19 reminded me to be thankful for my job and to work at it for the Lord and not for men.
I guess Covid really taught me how small I am and how big God is. He is in control & I am not. I am just stewarding His business & His assets.