Living in Florida has a particular temptation. When on the phone in the winter with someone who is up north, one is tempted to mention how nice the weather is where you are in Florida. But the trade off is having occasional days of sheer panic and anxiety watching the cone of (t)error stretched over your house when a cat 5 hurricane is coming. Winter weather is paradise. But hurricane season can be a slow moving disaster you can do little about.

It’s times like hurricane season when what really matters becomes more clear and what doesn’t can literally blow away. Life is filled with things and situations that tempt us to think they are so important. But in trying times we tend to see so much clearer. That is an opportunity for the gospel, both for growing personally and leading others to grow and for ourself and others to touch lives with the gospel, perhaps for the first time.

Obama Whitehouse chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel has famously said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.” As Christian leaders, what we have trouble doing in normal times is getting people’s attention to grow in following Jesus or for non-believers even to notice that followers of Jesus are different. In normal times people don’t much care about Jesus or what Jesus can do for them.

But in a crisis, whether it is a hurricane, a school shooting, a plant closing, even a personal crisis of divorce or death of a loved one or hospitalization, people notice those things that are important. They notice the way Jesus followers are different and they may be more open to what may be different for them, even the Christian faith. They are more open to Jesus and growing in Jesus.

The point is that as Christian leaders, who seek to lead others to Christ and who seek to lead others to grow in Christ, we can notice these times of crisis and leverage them for the kingdom of God. This is not manipulation, this is being aware of people and their needs. It is as Jesus said, being “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Notice where people have realized their moorings to the things of this life are weak and instead show them Jesus. Pastors do this all the time with hospital calls and home visits to those who have lost loved ones. Then help growing Christians to get engaged in the effort by helping them see how they can live out their faith even more intentionally during those times and model it for them.

In hurricane country it means helping neighbors put up storm shutters and helping clean up hurricane debris in the neighborhood afterward. It means engaging in conversation and offering to pray. It means noticing when your neighbor says something about being lucky because it could have been worse and you say, “yes, ‘thank the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.’” It means encouraging fellow believers to not just hunker down taking care of themselves but looking out for the widow and orphan and those who are anxious. It is an opportunity for caring, for loving, for being “little Christs” for others which may in turn lead to other interactions and dialogue and even a baptism down the road. All because you were more aware, more insightful, more intentional.

It is indeed tempting to grumble and complain about the various “challenges” or “crisis” of this life. Yet what if we saw it as a way for God to open believer’s hearts to living more intentionally as Christians? What if we saw it as a way for God to open people’s hearts to hearing the truth of the gospel for the first time? Or what if we saw it as a teaching opportunity to lead Christins to lead others closer to Jesus? If you are busy grumbling and complaining focussed on self, you will miss this ripe time for spiritual transformation in Christ in self and others as you are used by God. 

So here are some coaching questions:

  1. Where do you see the crisis or trials or challenges of this life? How do you see it affecting you and other people?
  2. How can you be a tool in God’s hand to urge people to lean into trusting God all the more at these times? 
  3. How can you model living for Jesus at those times both for other Christians and for those not yet Christians?
  4. How can you intentionally leverage those times to bring others to Christ and to show other Christians to do the same?

You may not live in Florida but there is probably a ripe opportunity for you to be used by God right where you are. Ask God to show you and to use you and then when you sense where and how that might be, take someone with you, step out on faith and see what happens!

Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Check out his YouTube channel for more leadership and coaching information. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, or

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“Hurricane” Discipleship

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