Opportunity in Crisis

Many have heard that the Chinese use the same word to describe the concepts of crisis and opportunity. What they mean to say is that in every crisis lies an opportunity, depending on how it is looked at.

The word crisis comes from the Greek “to separate, to sift” which means to pass judgment, to keep only what is worthwhile. There is an opportunity in every crisis and the deeper the crisis, the better the opportunity can be – however, some people are not capable of seeing it.

A crisis, especially a big one, can help us to see better, to see more clearly; to decentralize our look from our individual or collective problems; to have a global look; and to realize that our local crises cannot be fully understood if we do not place them in the bigger perspective – and context counts.

Clearly, the Church is in crisis – and a really big one at that!  The reporting and disclosure of the sexual abuse of children is giving us an intensive, (albeit horrible) enlightening course. It is letting us see with depressing astonishment how the crimes and sins over the years of so many trusted and revered in our Church are today producing a great spiritual crash. We can also see how quickly many, at all levels and places in society and in the Church react in response. This crisis is shocking to us when we see how deeply rooted the problem is.

Whether the amount of money spent addressing this issue is in the millions locally or billions globally – that can never compare to the value of any one life of a child whose innocence has been stolen.  And now the newspapers, TV and radio news shows and blogs of all bends and persuasions are filled with stories of thin apologies, half-cocked policies, and enough finger-pointing and blame that continues to threaten the peace and belief of so many millions of believers. But the pain is real and it persists!

As a pastor of souls, certainly without minimizing or brushing any of the seriousness of these horrors aside, and fully acknowledging that there is much to do at every level in the Church, let us be positive. Let us dream that this crisis, as revolting as it is, will enable us to open our eyes and join our hands to make change.

Pastor Ron Edmondson, on his blog wrote an entry entitled, 5 Things TO DO in Times of Crisis. I believe that knowing what to do in these times is important.  How we respond and what we do will not only help the Church today, but greatly determine future realities after the crisis has subsided. He suggested that his points may be life applicable regardless of the crisis. I agree and share an adapted version here for reflection. Here are Edmondson’s 5 things TO DO in times of crisis:

  1. Stay. Until you have been able to evaluate the crisis from every angle and you clearly know there is no way out, stay the course.
  2. Stand. Stick to your moral convictions and the vision you have for your life. Don’t allow the crisis to keep you from doing the right things, even if those choices seem to be the quickest solutions.
  3. Glean. Learn from others who have gone through similar crises. Someone else’s past situation may not be identical to yours, but the emotional and decision-making process they went through probably will be.
  4. Examine. We tend as leaders to quickly want to blame someone … This is never a helpful process initially, but at some point we’ll need to ascertain how we got in the crisis in the first place … We all make mistakes and we have to own them.
  5. Learn. Allow every crisis to teach you something about God, yourself, and others. If you have this ambition and mindset you will be surprised how different your approach to suffering through it and dealing with it emotionally will be. God is always willing to use the hard times to teach us important principles about life, ourselves, and ultimately about Him.

The ancient Greeks said that a crisis gives us an opportunity to separate and to sift, which implies passing judgment.  Let us be those people who take this opportunity to separate out what is bad, and to create anew the good and all that can be in the Church – in the way that Jesus has taught us.