In this Leading Thoughts, let me start with a personal story to set up some principles I want to urge on you. In addition to everything else we all dealt with in 2020, Bev and I had another layer. On the last day of February of last year, we learned that our DC home had been steamed. Yes, steamed. The place had to be gutted and rebuilt. That took months. The day we moved back in, we learned that our Nashville home had been flooded. Yes, flooded. The place had to be gutted and rebuilt. That took months. In all, 15 months of rebuilding.

Our rebuilding—twice—parallels the rebuilding you will be doing as we emerge from Covid-19 and catch the economic waves thrusting us forward. Here are some lessons.

First, pace yourself. Nothing will move as rapidly as you’d like. Settle in. Relax. Don’t be in a rush. Set goals but hold them loosely. No need for the stress and conflict that come from constantly pushing.

Second, live while you rebuild. Bev and I worked hard on getting our homes back but also spent time with our grandchild, stopped for good meals, and even vacationed a bit during all of this. Rich time with friends made all the difference and some lazy days of old movies and long walks helped us tend our souls. Life has to go on while the rubble is removed. I’ve been in some war zones. People still marry, still raise a glass, still dance, still laugh, still worship. Make sure you do too.

Third, divide and conquer. I have an amazing and strong wife. We split up the work according to our gifts. We protected each other as much as we could. I dove into the initial mess. She’s a math genius who handled the money and the buying. We lived out the principle that “many hands make light work.” Even four hands can make light work.

Fourth, be lovingly tough. I said above to pace yourself and that is certainly true for you personally. Yet during the months of rebuilding I had to threaten a lawsuit, I had to face down a misbehaving contractor (not one of mine), and I had to hold a firm line time and again with various companies. I wasn’t rude. I didn’t rage. But I was firm, tough, and fair. I think it won respect. It certainly helped get us to the finish line. The lesson? Firm and friendly aren’t enemies.

Fifth, call in reinforcements. I don’t know everything I need to know to rebuild two homes. Thank God I know people. I relied on them. I sought their counsel. I handed them the phone when some company rep was talking to me in terms I didn’t understand. They were a haven for me. They were essential. I’m grateful.

Sixth, vision, vision, vision. At the beginning, Bev and I sat and thought through what it would look like when things were finished. We refined that vision over time. We encouraged each other with that picture nearly daily. Now, we are here. The vision kept us going, kept us on track, and kept us aligned in our work. Vision, Vision, Vision!

Seventh, and finally: Always ask, “What does this make possible?” Asking this led to important changes in my soul, led to offloading things we didn’t need, led to strategic upgrades, led to smarter ways of doing things, and even led to a deeper trust in God. What do hard times make possible for you?

Make these lessons your own and let’s thrive together in the season to come.