Every week we are bombarded with another crisis. A school shooting, mass shooting, flood, fire, riot, shortage, war, and the hits keep coming.
How can we respond to these crises without remaining angry, bitter, or hardened? How do we hear about more crises without growing jaded or curled up in anxiety? Fair questions for a country that regularly finds its way into trouble.
As a pastor, coach, and counselor, I’ve learned four things that we can all do to respond appropriately to the next crisis.
- DON’T CATASTROPHIZE THE CRISIS
Fight hard not to let your mind convince you that things are far worse than they are. If we aren’t careful, our brain will convince us that we are like our preferred news outlet. We can be so active in telling ourselves that the sky is falling everywhere. We can make every crisis our crisis. Yes, we should be concerned, moved, and burdened, but you cannot own and exasperate every situation. My friend Julie Homrich would say, “don’t believe everything you think.”
- ACTIVELY LISTEN
In most crises, loud voices point fingers, find fault and politicize the situation. Friends, this is not how to help or how to respond. There is a reason our Creator gave us two ears and one mouth. The single best way to respond to a crisis is to exercise your capacity to listen actively. Yes, affirm your connection to those affected. Affirm their heartache or pain, but at all costs, hush and let them speak. Let them find solace in your presence without your words. Keep this in mind. If you don’t know what to say, please don’t throw a catchphrase or random Bible. Verse their way. Just be there and listen. It’s okay to have a ministry of presence. While meeting the wonderful people of Uvalde, Texas, I heard, over and over again, “you are the only people asking us what we need.” In most points of crisis, words are cheap. Listening is golden.
- PRAY AND THEN PRAY SOME MORE
We Americans are such activity-based people. When a hurricane happens, we get out the chain saws and wet vacs. When a shooting happens, we tend to do the same thing. What in the world? Prayer should never be seen as the last resort. Prayer is the single most extraordinary power on earth and requires zero travel! The minute you see or hear of a crisis, start praying. I’ll never forget seeing a horrific auto crash and hopping out of my truck to see if I could help. I got to the driver and realized they were already in the process of bleeding out. An incredible EMT jumped in, and I started praying for this mom out loud in the middle of highway 78. At that moment, the single greatest thing I knew to do was to PRAY! Before I finished, there were more than 20 people that had gathered around and, in their way, joined me in praying. Five days later, I got word that this dear lady had lost her leg, but she had her life and her toddler in the backseat. Prayer works! Pray, and then pray some more!
- ACT WITH GRACE AND SERVE WITH HUMILITY Determine not to join the fray and jump on the whiner train. Here is an equation from my friend Brad Rhoads, “Grace + Intentionality = Transformation” grace extends forgiveness and continuously extends a benefit of the doubt. Grace doesn’t blame. It smooths. And here is an authentic truth – WHEN WE EXTEND GRACE, WE SERVE OTHERS WITH HUMILITY!” According to the poster child of humility, Mother Teresa, this is what humility looks like: These are the few ways we can practice humility:
- To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
- To mind one’s own business.
- Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
- To avoid busy-body curiosity.
- To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
- To pass over the mistakes of others.
- To accept insults and injuries.
- To accept being slighted, forgotten, and disliked.
- To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
- Never stand on one’s dignity.
- To choose is always the hardest. And best.
The evil in this world will continue to be a struggle from now until we reach Heaven’s gates. We will have minimal power over what they might be or where they will happen, but how we act and react to crises is entirely within our power.
Let us be a people that act and react in and through crises with grace, decency, and kindness. The world has a widening depletion of women and men that will respond in love. If we want to improve this world, let us act in these four areas.
Go in Peace, Chuck