When a disaster strikes in the United States, there are teams of people who have been especially prepared to handle such circumstances. These “first response” groups, as they are known, are equipped to know how to best deal with a chaotic and unpredictable situation. They have the skills and resources to help minimize damage and protect the most number of people as possible.
In our lives, we also have a “first response” team – a group of people that we turn to when things aren’t going well. Similarly, we may be part of someone else’s team; we may be the person that they count on to help them weather a storm. Unsurprisingly, these people are usually the individuals that are closest to us – our spouses, our parents, or dear friends. They rely on us in their moments of greatest needs.
Yet sometimes we don’t treat this position as the privilege that it is. Just like the emergency “first responders” are a select and esteemed group, we have been carefully selected by the people who count on us. This means that we need to be equipped and prepared to deal with their life emergency.
Practically this means at least three things:
1) We need to know the proper instructions – If people come to us for help and assistance, the most helpful thing that we can do is to point them to the One who knows their situation intimately and can provide the most powerful help imaginable. That means we need to know God’s Word. We need to know what God says about their situation, how they should respond, and the promises that He offers to those who call on Him.
2) We need to practice love. – The reason the first responders are so good at their job is that they practice. Simulations try to create the types of situations that they might find themselves in. We don’t have to create virtual events in order for us to practice. We have the opportunity to practice sacrificial love each and every day. This type of love isn’t interested in what benefits us, but what is beneficial to them. If we are doing this when there isn’t an emergency, it will likely be our response when there is one as well.
3) We need to be equipped with encouragement. – Being a first responder can be difficult because there is chaos everywhere. Sometimes our first reaction is to try to “fix” the problem – by telling people what they are doing wrong or by removing barriers for them. However, while we may be able to provide a solution, usually when people turn to us, the first thing that they need to hear is to keep walking the path that God has for them. Much like a trapped patient doesn’t need to hear about the surgery they will eventually need to have, we need to give them the “first aid” first – we need to stop the bleeding – and then work on the subsequent steps. Of course, if someone is walking contrary to God’s will, we can’t encourage that – but except in these situations the first words on our lips should be bandages of encouragement. We can move on to the detail prescription afterward.
Being a first responder isnt’ easy, but they play a critical role in saving lives after a catastrophe. It won’t be easy for us either, but if we know the proper instructions, practice love and are equipped with encouragement, we can have confidence that we can be someone our loved ones can count on when they face their own time of need.
What’s missing from the list that is critical for “first responders?”