Sometimes success is simply surviving! Last week we had dinner with friends who just returned from San Juan. Dave and Kim had endured the terror of Hurricane Maria while on the 14th floor of their beachfront apartment. Windows were blown out as their entire building swayed under the force of the ferocious storm.
My buddy Cam Huxford says, “In Savannah we’ve learned that you can prepare for a storm, but you can’t prepare for a hurricane . . . you can only hope to survive!” I’m no expert when it comes to literal hurricanes, but I do know something about emotional ones. I’ve experienced my own share of nighttime terrors, public panic attacks and heart- wrenching torments. Things such as stress fractures with elders, immorality among staff, litigation in Federal Court, abandonment by friends, not to mention two IRS audits! Here are a few of the survival tips I’ve learned.
- Anticipate weather changes―don’t assume the sun will always shine. Jesus warned His people to prepare for the worst with the parable of two houses, one built on the rock and the other on the sand.
- Store up provisions in advance―don’t go shopping in a storm. Solomon said, “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets . . .” (Proverbs 21:20TLB)
- Keep filling your tank―don’t be caught running on empty! Retreating, reading and reflecting are the “refueling” stops needed for on-going health.
- Reach out to your neighbors―we take turns being strong. “Two are better than one . . . if one falls down his friends can help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
- Be alert to looters―they’ll steal your joy! “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16)
- Put your trust in God―the sun will shine again! During several of my “hurricane” seasons I daily recalled the words of King David, “Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:14)
One of my friends is an expert on hurricanes. Rick Grover led a church through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Then he also led two other churches through their own ministry hurricanes as well. I know of no leader who has a stronger testimony on endurance. Rick has repeatedly put on leadership clinics on how to survive and is now flourishing once again.
This I know ~ when you encounter “the perfect storm,” success is simply to survive and get the ship you are leading safely back to port! “. . . the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wit’s end. ‘Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.” (Psalm 107: 25-31 NLT)
Even if you’re simply surviving today, it’s a good time to praise the Lord!
Grace and Peace
Center for Church Leadership