Episode 73 - 20 Jul 2020
How to Care for People in Crisis
On this episode of the Church Leadership Podcast, Blake Holmes joins Adam Tarnow and John McGee to talk about how to care for people in crisis. Note, that while this episode was actually recorded pre-COVID-19, we believe it is more applicable than ever. For show notes please visit www.watermarkresources.com/clp
Blake Holmes joins Adam and John in the studio to talk about how to care for people in crisis. Note, although this episode was actually recorded pre-COVID-19, we believe it is more applicable now than ever. Church leaders have an incredible opportunity to step into moments of crisis with clarity and compassion. Here are some best practices for doing just that.
How to Care for People in Crisis
- Just Show Up. Too often we make assumptions that keep us from helping people. You might assume that someone closer to them is already taking care of them, that whatever you say won't be helpful, or that you'll just make things worse.In reality, its the friends who simply show up that make the greatest impact, even if they are unsure about what to do or say. When you see someone going through a crisis, just show up. Be with them. Remind them you are there for them. Go to the hospital with them. Show up to their door with a hug.
- Resist the urge to say something profound. Don't try to immediately fix the problem with theology or Scripture. When someone is hurting, don't minimize their pain or hurt. Avoid saying things like "At least you don't have...", "I understand completely", or "I went through something similar and things turned out alright." Instead, communicate that care about them. Remind your friend that you are for them even if things don't get better. Your friend's crisis is not an opportunity for teaching them something about leadership.
- Be comfortable with the reality of the situation. When someone is going through a crisis, it is important to not despair. However, it is also important to not be flippantly optimistic. What a grieving person or someone in crisis needs is not a pep-talk or to be cheered up with statistics. God doesn't need you to defend him. If you are unfamiliar with their situation, don't expect them to educate you or answer every question you might have. The best thing to do may just be to listen. If you do point people to Scripture, consider places like Psalm 61, or Habakkuk 3 that highlight how mourning and crisis can coexist with faith and hope.
- Find a need, however small, and meet it. While this can seem obvious, helping out with even the smallest of needs can be profoundly impactful during times of crisis. This could be as simple as bringing someone coffee, mowing their lawn, watching their kids, or cooking them dinner. Avoid saying "If there is something I can do, let me know!" because in the heat of a crisis, it can be difficult to even know what to do. Instead, find something doable for you and just do it. It doesn't need to be something elaborate. Remember that showing up even in the tiniest way, will always be better than not showing up at all. If you realize that you do not have margin in your life for meeting the needs of others, consider re-prioritizing your schedule. There will always be something you can offer something when they are in need.
- Pray with and for them. Don't sugar-coat things. Don't worry about saying anything profound. Just pray for those in crisis. Take some Scripture and pray through it. Point them to Jesus. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
- Follow up. There are going to be difficult milestones associated with any serious crisis. Anniversaries and holidays can be especially difficult. Remember that just because you stop thinking about someone's crisis does not mean their pain and hurt has ended. Most of the time, your presence is needed in someone's life not just during the crisis, but also after the crisis. Following up with a simple "How are you doing?" or "Praying for you" can be so helpful. Doing this communicates care. They might not want to talk about anything, but they will appreciate the fact you remember and are thinking of them.
Sr. Director of Watermark Resources
Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast