Don't panic

October 12th, 2016

Ever have one of “those” weeks? You know, the type of week where you cannot seem to escape the bad news? One of those weeks where you are doing your best to tread water on the emotional tsunami you find yourself in, but you are being repeatedly pounded by the unexpected and overwhelming? At times like these, panic often ensues.

Merriam-Webster defines panic as “the state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally and/or a situation that causes many people to become afraid and to rush to do something.” This definition reveals two interesting aspects of panic, particularly in the church.

Panic “causes many people to become afraid and to rush to do something.” What are we rushing to do? I believe the local church often spends too much time and energy applying program patches and bandwagon Band-Aids in an attempt to resolve much deeper and systemic problems. We fool ourselves into believing a herculean effort is required to resolve such issues, when all it may take is more time to gather the necessary insight. Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” In order to truly resolve issues that run deep, taking the time to analyze and address the root cause may ultimately prove more fruitful.

Secondly, panic “makes someone unable to act or think normally” which may result in rash behavior or inactivity. When panic strikes, church leaders often retreat into a scarcity mindset characterized by statements like, “we need to keep our budget flat” and “people are contributing all they can” and “we need to ride out this bad economic period.” If church leaders remain fearful and continue to operate with “business as usual,” the core problems remain intact. Instead, church leaders should find ways to dive deeper and address the fundamental issues that led to the time of panic. Approaching each challenge with a thoughtful and prayerful mindset will most often lead to appropriate and long-lasting solutions.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything; so, when faced with stressful situations or challenges in the church, it is best not to panic. In all things, God wants us to seek his wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God is eager to generously supply you with the wisdom to discern and respond to these situations in life and ministry. Humbling ourselves before God’s wisdom is not an escape clause from the difficulties we face, but rather it frees us from the negative effects of panic, knowing the God whose hand measures the width of the universe promises to walk with us through life’s storms.

This post was first published on the Horizons Stewardship blog.

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