Crisis Management

People tell me I am a good listener. People seem to like to confide in me. They like to tell me their "story". What can you do if you find yourself talking to someone and they suddenly start spilling their guts to you? What can you do if they suddenly burst into tears, but you don't have any idea why? Or maybe you have considered approaching someone to offer some encouragement, but you hesitate because you are afraid they might try to unload on you.

What can you do? You have to really Get into the situation. You have to Get help, Get real!, Get the facts, and Get involved. Let me explain the Gets of life in more detail.

Get help. You may feel completely overwhelmed by the situation. Don't be overwhelmed. Get help from God. First get help for yourself, and then get help for the other person. Say a simple prayer (in your mind) to God like, "Dear God: What do You want me to do and say? Please tell me. I will listen and obey." Sometime during the conversation with the other person, say a simple prayer for him. Or at least tell him you will be praying for him daily. Use prayer to Get help.

Get real! Fear may be part of the reason you feel overwhelmed. You may be afraid the person is looking for "a knight is shining armor" to "rescue" him from his situation. You may feel pressured to perform by showing great strength and wisdom in dealing with life's challenges.

Someone said to me, "Jeff, you are so strong!" I said, "No I'm not. I am one of the weakest people around. It is Christ who is strong. When you see any strength in me, you are seeing Christ's strength shown through me." The same is true for demonstrating wisdom. You do not have to prove that you can solve everybody's problems. Only God can do that. Admit that both of you should have your attention focused on God for the answers and the help. That is how you Get Real!

Get the facts. We are often too quick to judge other people's spiritual life based on their surface emotions. If someone seems despondent, like he is giving up, we may assume that he has lost his faith. If someone is worried, upset, or otherwise "down", we may assume that he does not trust God to provide for him. If someone is wearing a big smile, we may assume that he has learned to count on God and is "Ok".

But we can easily be wrong when we make assumptions about people's relationship with God based on surface emotions. A smile may be hiding a broken heart. A tear may be a release of tension or a cry for help, not a signal that the person has given up on God. Tell the person you don't understand what is bothering him. Tell him you would be glad to listen, if he wishes to explain. But don't judge him.

Over time, our emotions will affect our faith. Over time, our faith will affect our emotions. But one brief display of emotion by a person is not enough to judge that person. You cannot respond to the depth of a person's heart and soul by trying to read only surface evidence. Get the facts.

Get involved. You cannot assume sole responsibility for caring for the other person. He needs to depend on God. But you can be an instrument for God. You can show him that God does care. Maybe all he needs is someone to show that he cares by listening. If you know any applicable Bible passages, share them. But do not force a Bible verse or a solution of your own just to break a silent period.

You don't have to search for secret or hidden knowledge. Since you started the conversation with a silent prayer to God, the Holy Spirit will be leading you to the right words and actions. (But the Holy Spirit will not force you to say or do anything. You have to make a decision: will you listen and follow?) And the Holy Spirit will also be leading the other person to share with you the solution to his problems. He may already know what he needs and is looking for someone to follow his suggestions. Or he may not know what he needs, but the Holy Spirit will reveal clues to you based on the person's words and mannerisms.

If you feel he needs guidance or advice that you are unable to give, ask if he would like you to have an elder or the minister contact him. And don't think that you can undo conflicts that have built up over time in one hour. Don't place that burden upon yourself. But maybe you can offer hope that help is on its way. You can offer reassurance that God still loves him and is listening to his prayers for help. In summary, how do you get involved? By getting both yourself and the other person more involved with God. And remember to check back with him later to see how he is doing.

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