7 Good Things That Came Out of 2020 (It Actually Wasn’t All Bad)

You need some good news—as a human and as a leader. We all do.

While 2020 was dominated by crisis, tragedy, division and disease (as this recap of the Top 10 posts of year shows), it wasn’t all bad news.

So here’s a post on 7 good things that came out of 2020, things you can easily carry into 2021.

I’d love for you share personal wins in the comments at the end of this post.

In the meantime, here are 7 good things you can carry into 2021.

1. Innovation Got Accelerated

From the very beginning of the pandemic you’ve known that crisis is an accelerator. A lot of trends (like working from home, online shopping and boosting your internet presence) that might have taken years to take place without a crisis accelerated overnight.

And along with it came innovation.

Disruption happens all the time, even without a global crisis.  Just ask the Kodak about camera phones and Instagram or music artists about Spotify and streaming.

With the move to streaming, video conferencing, distributed gatherings, micro-gatherings and organizations becoming location independent, there is likely more opportunity right now that there are obstacles.

If you’re open to change, so is everyone. COVID may have broken your model, but the innovation it demands can give new life to your mission.

If you’re looking for a framework that will help you embrace innovation, this will help.

2. People Rallied Around Small 

Yes the big got bigger, but toward the end of 2020 there was a strong, people-fuelled rally around small. Small restaurants, shops and businesses.

And around local too.

Amazon’s algorithm may know you well, but it’s no substitute for the shop keeper, mechanic, grocer, restaurant owner or pastor who knows your name, your kids’ names and is invested directly in your community.

As intimidating as big might be, nobody should be able to out-local local organizations.

And for church leaders, just a reminder than nobody should be able to out-local the local church.

Your competitive advantage is not that you’re big and bullet proof, but that you’re human and you care. That still goes a long way.

3. The Resistance Around Change Crumbled

Change is always such a big leadership challenge. For years, my mantra has always been if you’re going to change, change big. (If you’re going to disrupt things, at least make it worth everyone’s stress.)

Of course that’s easier said than done, and most leaders struggle with change, as do even more of the people you lead.

But the good news about the current disruption is that everything broke, and now you only need to keep what’s still working.

You didn’t have to change. The pandemic did it for you.

On the other side, keep the things you would keep if you were starting over. Behave like a start up.

If people don’t like it, blame the pandemic.

Everything you wanted to change is suddenly changeable.

4. Justice Got Put Back on the National Agenda 

The summer of 2020 was tragic for more than just COVID. The brutal death of George Floyd and many others brought racial injustice back to the forefront of the American and global consciousness.

As heartbreaking and cruel as those deaths were, some African American say they feel the most hope they’ve felt in their lifetime because of the conversations (and action) they sparked.

I was recently reading an account of Lyndon B. Johnson’s push to end segregation and Jim Crow laws in the US in the 1960s. It occurred to me (having been born in the 60s) that the world I was born into was only barely accepting of the fact that the colour of your skin shouldn’t be a barrier to use something as simple as a bathroom or drink from a water fountain. Almost everyone (I wish I could say everyone) would find that inconceivable and incomprehensible today. A mindset shifted in a cultural moment.

We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go.

While all the issues around race aren’t ‘solved’ by any stretch, I’m hoping and praying things will never quite be the same again. That justice is being advanced, and that what was acceptable in 2019 won’t be acceptable any longer in 2021 and beyond.

May it be so.

5. Many Leaders Focused on Giving, Not Getting

Almost everybody gives at Christmas or when there’s an acute crisis.

I’ve been encouraged, for example, by what Jud Wilhite and the crew at Central Church in Las Vegas Nevada have done, feeding over 700,000 people with over 8 million pounds of food in 2020.

In an era where virtual signalling is a thing, I’ve been encouraged to see what the Central crew has done all year long, when people are watching but mostly when people haven’t been.

If you need a little hope, watch this video and the stories.

And grab a tissue. I needed one.

As a company, we gave more than we ever have financially but also tried to give in other ways to leaders.

Over 12K people have taken my free How to Lead Through Crisis course (it’s still open and you’re invited), we did a free virtual summit, are currently giving away the 2021 Church Leader Tool Kit and doing a big Starbucks giveaway on social right now (follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook).

If you’re going to err, err on the side of generosity.

6. The Hard Reset Ushered In Healthier Habits

Everybody’s life grinded to a halt in mid-March.

Yes, it created massive hardship, tension and tragically fuelled addictions in some people.

But my guess is that the hard reset ushered in some things you have come to appreciate too.

For example, a year without travel has turned out to be a gift. More time with my wife, with my family and more time to change my pace and enjoy the life I’ve been given.

I miss people, and moving forward I probably won’t travel at the level I used to so I can spend more time with the people around me.

Also was more active than I’ve ever been—cycling over 3K km (finally!) and taking up running.

If you look back over 2020, you probably have some refreshing family and personal rhythms you don’t want to quit either. So don’t.

7. People Valued Community Even More

One of the great ironies of 2020 is that you suddenly had time to gather with people—you just weren’t allowed to meet with them.

One of the deep appreciations I’ve had in 2020 is for family and friends that I now value more than ever.

Which also leads me to a key reason I want to travel less is because I want to hangout more with the people around me.

The daily FaceTimes and Zooms with people you care about will hopefully morph into longer meals, lingering nights and fun memories together.

For the church, community continues to evolve. It’s happening. It’s just happening less in a central facility than it was even a year ago—even for reopened churches.

When it comes to church, I hope it means you cling to the people who matter to you a little more tightly.


As hard as it might be, what if 2021 could be a year of real growth for you and your church?

You know that in 2020, some organizations grew while others struggled. I’d love to help your church thrive in 2021.

I know, that sounds crazy (especially after a post like this), but like most things, it’s crazy until it’s not.

I believe 2021 can be a great year for you and your team, and I’d love to help you make it happen.

That’s why I created the 2021 Church Leader Toolkit.

Inside, I cover:

  • How To Produce Content That Actually Gets Read & Watched
  • 5 Keys To Better Digital Preaching
  • 7 Strategies To Deepen Digital Engagement
  • How To Keep You And Your Team Out Of Burnout
  • 3 Key Pivots For Every Organization In 2021

The toolkit is free.

You can get access and share the kit with your team here!

What Good Happened In Your Life and Leadership in 2020?

I’d love to hear your story.

What good things happened to you, in you or for you this year?

What do you want to hang onto heading into 2021? Scroll down and leave a comment.

7 Good Things That Came Out of 2020 (It Actually Wasn’t All Bad)


  1. sherry on January 2, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    This pandemic has brought us back to basics to what is truly important. Community , gratitude for the simple things.. Not so much for things but more about what we as individuals can do together and for one another.
    Lots of opportunities especially online..There are alot of good that has come especially in the way we use our minds in creating new ways to do things.. change is good..

  2. JLynn on January 2, 2021 at 2:18 am

    “Your competitive advantage is not that you’re big and bullet proof, but that you’re human and you care” *mic drop*

    I wouldn’t say that the crisis causes all the doors to fly open for substantial change, but I would say that it got the needle to start moving bit by bit.

    I would also say that I received a revelation of spiritual gifting in 2020 and a clue (at least for the moment) on where God may want me to use it. I also discovered some books that were speaking my language and giving me exactly what I needed to step into this calling thanks to Ms. Jo Saxton!

  3. Greta Hurst on January 1, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    As was said, we learned about Covid in mid-March and that it was an epidemic. I had been planning to downsize (I’m 85 next month) and felt it was time to move. As far as I’m concerned it’s my last move and a huge amount of downsizing was needed. So I moved here in this residence for seniors last May. I feel it was the best move I could make as travel was no longer an option. Also, I’m a Unity board member and was essentially a greeter previous to the epidemic. I believe my ‘hugging’ days are over so I’m looking for ways to do other things re parishioners. I’m on your mailing list and really appreciate your thoughts and sense of humour.

  4. Mary Irvine Sweet on January 1, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Thank you to HopefortheCity for their efforts, but PLEASE, wear your masks! Too many helpers in the video were not wearing masks!

  5. jane on January 1, 2021 at 9:43 am

    I read your book which came to me on 31st December 2000. It was a true Godsend. Thank you. Please think about a specific place where readers could give you their feedback??? (It doesn’t necessarily mean negative either!!!)

    Coronavirus meant more isolation (although chatted a lot on line), learning to use zoom (turning the video on was very helpful :o) and full appreciation of my daughter and sweet little grandchildren and friends and colleagues. Learning the value of FRESH AIR and the joy a cup of coffee with a friend can bring! Learning how lucky we are to have our health and appreciating how devastating Corona has been to others less fortunate.

    Sending some money to causes I believe in – the protection of nature (and more specifically, wildlife and a ban against fox hunting and other unexplainable cruelty to animals), the replanting of trees and re-evaluation of life’s values.

  6. Robin on January 1, 2021 at 9:02 am

    2020 revealed my desperate need for God’s WORD to fill me since outward things and distractions weren’t doing it so well.

  7. Thomas Sharpe on December 31, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    2020 was a year to let go for me. When the crisis hit I wanted to stop thinking God might be hitting the reset on his church. It was like a rip tide pulling me out to sea that should not be fought against. I want to swim along the shore and go to another beach. I just don’t want to go back to the old beach. I became a pastor to connect the Gospel with the culture with little success. I feel the world has opened up with digital. I am filled with hope and possibilities after 28 years of ministry. Just 2 years ago I was saying just get people on the property. Now it’s a new world.

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