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How to Think About a Crisis

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I’m working on my dissertation on Crisis Leadership in Baptist Affiliated Christian Higher Education Institutions. That sounds like a mouthful (and it is), but I’m seeking to ask and answer the question: How should leaders respond to crisis? Throughout this process I’ve been both grateful for the study and plagued with a new vision of crisis in the world. Let me show you a glimpse:

  • An organization embezzles millions of dollars leaving their entire workforce unemployed.
  • A real estate mogul builds mansions on the coast, only to see it fall into the sea leaving the owner homeless.
  • A child grows up fatherless with a mother who works the streets and two other jobs to pay the bills.
  • Over and over and over again, the media reminds its viewers that toddlers die from cancer, crowds are smashed into by rented moving vans, and sexual assault by those in power are regular occurrences.
  • Hindu leaders are accused of raping children in India, and Christian leaders are looked at for covering up abuse in their own churches in America.
  • The witch doctor in South America is shot by her Canadian student who is then lynched by the tribe.
  • The former President of South Korea is ousted for working to build her own wealth rather than that of her country.
  • Across the border in North Korea malnutrition is common, death camps are part of life, and the leader lives like a god.
  • Entire families blow themselves up inside of churches and at police stations.
  • Russia drops chemical bombs in Syria and countries refuse refugees as they try to flee their bomb-shelled homes.
  • Babies are miscarried, family members die and anxiety cripples, there is an innate understanding that humanity is not perfect.

If you’re not slightly depressed after that *small* vision of the state of the world we live in, then you may want to check your heart (both physically and spiritually).

So, what does this have to do with you?

You’re always seeing this pain on social media. Shootings, families loosing loved ones, miscarriages, sexual abuse and more fill your feeds every day. So how do you handle it?

For this post, let’s consider how you handle it personally.

Start with a solid foundation.

As Christians we build our understanding off of the beginning of the world’s story. After creation humanity experienced the fall.

John Calvin says of that at the fall,

“[The] word of God [was] despised, all reverence for him [was] gone. … Hence infidelity was at the root of the revolt. It was accompanied with foul insult to God, the guilty pair assenting to Satan’s calumnies when he charges God with malice, envy, and falsehood. In fine, infidelity opened the door to ambition, and ambition was the parent of rebellion, man casting off the fear of God, and giving free vent to his lust.”[1]

Crisis is a result of sin, and sin is a result of the fall. What is more, we must also maintain that all of our systems and infrastructures are also tainted by sin. Sin, like a cancer, has spread beyond just the personal impact of causing individuals to be corrupted, it has infected our very organizations, which are merely the creations of sinful humans. Thus, Romans 8 talks about creation groaning for the sons of God to be revealed since it was subjected to futility.

Understand the implications.

When crisis hits (when sin and its effects are revealed) we must understand that our knowledge of sin informs our interpretation of crisis. Therefore, we cannot fully trust any organization (no matter how upright) for safety or refuge in times of crisis because they too are corrupted. We must allow ourselves to be forced to the only safety in times of crisis, to the only one who is corruptionless, removed and unstained by sin, to God himself.

There is only one place that we can go to for safety: Further into the one who reveals and heals our sin.

So, when crises arise, remember that these are effects of the fall. Sin is at the root of the crisis, and one-day crises will be no more because sin will be no more. But don’t stop with remembering where crisis came from – also look forward to where crisis (and sin) are going. The future of crisis and sin is clear – they will be put to death with death.

One day there will be no more crisis as there will be no more sin (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). Justice will roll down like the waters (Amos 5:24). Sin will be seen in the full light of sun (Luke 8:17; Ephesians 5:13). What is bent will be made straight (Luke 13:11) and what is broken will be made whole (Colossians 1:20-29). Jesus has borne in his body on the tree the penalty for sin, and thus removed humanities biggest crisis – that of our separation from God. So, we can take hope and find safety in Him as the one who will wipe our tears away (Revelation 21:4).

[1] Calvin, 149.

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Sam Morris

Sam Morris is the Electronic Marketing Specialist at Southeastern Seminary. He holds a BA and MA in Communications from Wichita State University. He is married and has one son.

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