When Crisis Hits
This post was written by Mel Lawrenz
[This article is part of the "spiritual leadership today" study/discussion. For all articles in the series, click the Spiritual Leadership tab at the top of the page. To have them delivered, subscribe to The Brook Letter]
Spiritual leadership is tested in the face of crisis. And crisis is the moment when spiritual leadership is most needed. The very word “crisis” means the time to decide, the turning point.
Crisis moments are times that come up in every leader’s experience that require spiritual responsiveness, and open a whole new opportunity for sustained spiritual leadership. Crisis is where we learn about our base instincts. Crisis is a defining moment made possible because people’s hearts are torn open. What is in people’s hearts will come out, and new truths and values may enter in. Crisis opens us like an earthquake cracking the crust of the earth.
Of all the formative influences in people’s spiritual lives, the experience that is the most influential is crisis. People may remember an inspiring teacher, a loving parent, a soul-mate, a conference that precipitated a call, a church where they learned the essential truths of the faith. But the thing people never forget is when they went through some kind of heart-rending, danger-ridden passage–a true crisis–and what they learned about faith in after the earthquake.
This is ironic. The most deforming experiences in life often turn out to the most formative. Why is that? Why do some of the best things get built only after we have been torn down? And what can we tell people about the help of God at a time of crisis?
Time and again in the Scriptures, what God says in times of crisis is: I am here. I will not abandon you. You are not alone.
Spiritual leadership involves monitoring the spiritual needs of the people we are leading.
It is impossible to overstate how important that is, and how it defines the response of spiritual leadership in a time of crisis. For any leader who is an activist at heart, the hardest thing is that it seems like too little. Almost an insult. How can just “being there” be meaningful and effective? What does it accomplish? An emergency room physician can revive someone whose heart has stopped beating, a fireman can extinguish destructive flames, a policeman can put a criminal behind bars. These are the the kinds of assistance in the face of crisis that seem valuable to us. Leaders like to fix things.
But when crisis first breaks, it is not about fixing. Spiritual life and leadership can make a life-changing difference when the earthquake of crisis hits, but it often comes in the form of the ministry of presence.
When the Hebrew people were wandering in the desert wilderness for years–anxious about water, food, enemies, disease–God offered one thing: his presence. It was made tangible in the form of the tent called the tabernacle. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). It is not that the Creator of the universe needed a tent to live in–the tent was the symbol and the touchpoint for the presence. The tabernacle says this: God is above our lives, but he chooses to live in and among our lives. The tabernacle is God saying: what you call home, I call home, even if it is no home. The wilderness, and the tabernacle with the wilderness, says: our lives are always on the move as we walk and search and battle and plod. Our one hope is that the God of heaven above is with us. Look at that tent over there. That was God’s idea, not ours.
[To be continued... HERE]
What do you think?
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 7:17 am and is filed under Spiritual Influence.
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