Last week, the internet was a buzz with news of one of the largest cyber attacks in history. Due to a vulnerability in operating systems, computers and servers in over 100 countries were infected with the “WannaCry” ransomware. This malicious computer software “kidnapped” computers, denying access to data and asking for a ransom. This attack disrupted business everywhere, including some major institutions, corporations, and even governments.

Threats are a Reality of Life

Every person, leader or not, will face some sort of threat or obstacle in his or her life. Jesus didn’t say "maybe" or "if" when He warned us about trials. He said, “In this world you will have trouble” [John 16:33].

Anticipating Obstacles

It is impossible to completely avoid all threats at all times, but we can take steps to anticipate possible threats or obstacles so we can face them head on. These four preventive steps are essential to our preparation against obstacles threatening to derail our vision:

  1. Be Proactive. The secret is to anticipate obstacles. A couple years ago, we worked on a global threat assessment here at ILI. Our teams travel around the world, including places where bad things happen from time to time. We wrote policies on how to respond to natural disasters, political turmoil, kidnapping, and even terror attacks. While our policies can’t actually stop these threats, we now have a better idea of how to respond if (and when) something happens.

  2. Invest in Communication. Soldiers know that good communication between the front lines and headquarters will help win wars, but there is no point in setting up proper channels of communication in the heat of battle. Preparation needs to be done during times of peace. In leadership, whether the threat comes from outside or within, good communication is essential to resolution.

  3. Respond Swiftly. The increased speed of accident rescue in recent decades has greatly increased chances of survival for trauma victims. Responding quickly to a leadership crisis gives us more response options and better possible outcomes.

  4. Preventive Prayers. Biblical leaders face the additional threat of spiritual warfare, but we also have the weapons of prayer and God's power acting on our behalf. Beyond “in the moment” warfare prayer, spiritual leaders can engage in “preventive prayer,” like Jesus did. When the Master said, “This kind (of demon) does not go out except by prayer and fasting,” [Matt 17:21] there is no evidence they were praying and fasting at the time. What we do know from the Gospels is Jesus practiced a life of prayer and fasting. This is the weapon that will help us overcome all threats, spiritual or not.

The bad news about last week’s cyber attack is there seems to be more coming. Companies and IT professionals everywhere are on high alert, making sure they stay ahead of the game and prevent further damage. The same can be said of Biblical visionary leaders. Obstacles will come, and we need to be on high alert.

Let's practice these four preventive measures so when the threats become real obstacles, we can fight the good fight and overcome anything our spiritual enemy launches at us.