Too often we can feel bounced into announcing and taking action before we are ready to. I’ve seen it in church life where someone suddenly pushes a major decision to a vote well before all of the information is on the table and before people are ready, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually to make a discernment. There is usually an alliance of extremes at work to bounce the early decision. On the one side are those who are over excited and eager to get going. They want everything pushed through early. On the other side, there are those who want to block the move and think an early vote will go against the proposal.
I have been reminded of this over the past week whilst watching the latest Government manoeuvres on COVID. Last Friday, leaks emerged in the national press that Boris Johnson was going to announce a new national lockdown on Monday. On Saturday morning, the Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer was demanding on twitter that we needed to hear from the Prime Minister that day. My personal view was that the leaks needed to stop but that if the plan was for him to speak on Monday then that was when he should speak. However, by Saturday evening, TV schedules had been rejigged and the Prime Minister made his statement.
In the middle of the week, despite lots of unanswered questions and unprovided evidence for lockdown measures being needed and despite the proposals being incisistent in that they fully locked down some sectors whilst sticking to chocolate fireguard protection for others, the regulations went to a House of Commons vote. The House passed the measures by the kind of super majority usually seen for things like The Dangerous Dogs Act and the Iraq War. By Thursday England was in lockdown.
By Friday, things were beginning to unravel badly. The Daily Mail provided this report showing that new cases of COVID were slowing down and in some parts of the country the infection rates were in decline. This suggests that the 3 tier strategy that had only been given a couple of weeks was beginning to work.
Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph also has two reports that put the lockdown into question. In the first article, it is reported that the graphs initially produced suggesting that the 2nd wave death toll would surpass the first were wrong. In the second, Fraser Nelson reports how the Prime Minister had planned to use the weekend to mull over his decision. Nelson claims that the leaks were intended to ensure that he followed through on the lockdown and did not go wobbly.
It is my view that the Government has now been bounced into a decision and cannot see a way back from it without losing face. We are now committed to a lockdown that we may not even have needed.
That’s the problem when you make decisions and announcements before you are ready to. Whether it is in politics, the workplace or the church, my advice would be to take your time, be patient and make your decision when you are ready to. Similarly, church leaders should not rush members into decision making. Some people work on the basis of better to have no decision at all than to have the wrong decision. I would rather we wait a bit longer and get the right decision.