4 Ways to Bounce Forward through Tough Times

It might be fashionable to say that brighter days are ahead. That we’ve got this. This kind of messaging might even help people feel hopeful. And I hope they are right. But we need something more than just feelings if we are to move forward with Small Groups.

The last few years have taught us that things naturally go downhill. All you have to do is nothing and things wear out. They break. Things, people, and organizations just naturally fall apart. It’s just the way things are in this broken world.

Now I’m all for being positive. After all, God is in control. Period. And from an eternal perspective, He wins. There may be some wins here in this life, but His ultimate and eternal win comes at the end of history. And for all who are in Christ, we win too.

But until then, people, things, and organizations are going to fail. They’re going to fall. So, the question is what are we going to do when it happens? When we fail? When our structure and organization fall and break apart?

Bouncing Defined

I’m convinced that God doesn’t just want you to lie there after misfortune, failure, or change. God wants you to bounce. The question is are you going to bounce? And if yes, how are you going to bounce? You can bounce four different ways.

•       Bounce Down – just give up, you lie there in a pool of your own pity.

•       Bounce Back – you respond, but only return to where you were.

•       Bounce Up – you come back up, but not sure where to go

•       Bounce Forward – this is where you move forward after failure.

When you bounce forward, you first must absorb the loss and shock of it all. You then quickly look to leverage it into opportunities, catapulting sustainable growth. When challenges emerge, resilient leaders quickly look at where they are, stop doing what’s not working, and bounce forward by pouring themselves into what’s working.

Bounce Continuum

I’m really sorry to say that change doesn’t have a shelf life. No matter what a book or consultant might say, it’s never guaranteed fresh and nourishing until some date printed on the brochure. Change that’s fresh today may stay fresh for years. Or maybe for a couple of months.

We must look at the downturn and crisis in front of us, or the one we find ourselves sinking into, for exactly what it is. Something that God is not surprised by, and as an opportunity for us to grow in faith and obedience in Him. When we respond this way, we can bounce forward in faith, gaining an advantage over the enemy that allows us a season to save and serve more people.

To do this, we need to bounce forward in four different ways.

  1. Agility. We need to build into people and encourage them to bounce forward, shifting toward faster, informed decision-making. Rather than waiting long periods of time for the “perfect solution,” we need to install and support a “good enough” approach for change. This makes it easier for leaders and teams to try, test, learn, and adjust as more and more complex problems come at us faster and faster.

    I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

    Philippians 4:12 NIV

  2. Ownership. As we empower people, they must take ownership and become more and more self-sufficient. When ownership and outcomes are shared, people feel energized to carry out their plans. There needs to be a continuous feedback path through premortems, postmortems, and other opinion loops. These need to be viewed as a good thing, invigorating continual change of course and innovation.

    The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

    Psalm 32:8 NLT

  3. Coaching. When you’re looking to identify adaptable and teachable leaders, be sure that they don’t just react when faced with disaster or an unanticipated change. You need to take time to coach then through change. This will build new actions and skills. One of the most important things you want to develop through your coaching is both short and long-term attitude not to give up.

    Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

    2 Thessalonians 1:4 NIV

  4. Invest. We need to look at providing opportunities for the people that God has given to us. Opportunities to learn. To grow. To expand their horizons. Remember, these people are not resources to just get things done. They are people of eternal value, souls for whom Jesus dies. We must always, always, always treat them with respect and care, just like how Jesus treats us.

    Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.

    Isaiah 43:4 NIV

Bounce Super

Whenever I think about bouncing forward, I can’t help but picture a Wham-O Super Ball[1]. It doesn’t just bounce, it really bounces. And if you spin it correctly, it won’t just go up and down. Oh no, it’ll bounce forward.

In the same way, we need to look at disruptions and change as God’s opportunity to move forward with Him. We need to remember that what looks so overwhelming to us wasn’t a surprise at all to God. He’s in control and wants to move His church and people forward.

The promise of Jesus is that “the gates of Hades will not overcome.[2]” That includes all the changes, troubles, and tough times coming our way. We need to respond to them for what they are, a change to grow in our faith and that of our people.


Chet Gladkowski frequently writes for Small Group Network and digitally publishes at www.ChetGlad.org and www.MarkThisYear.com.

Further Reading: Raising the resilience of your organization by Dana Maor, Michael Park, and Brooke Weddle, McKinsey & Co.

[1] https://youtu.be/uFLJcRegIVQ

[2] Matthew 16:18


  • Chet Gladkowski

    Originally from Baltimore, MD, Chet spent his professional career in the insurance technology arena; always looking for better solutions to help people. Now he uses his very unique, practical communication styles based on a variety of digital media, to approach the pain, issues, and heartache that people face with the solution-focused solely on a relationship with Jesus Christ as the answers to our greatest need.

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