Putting Out the Fires
For Missionaries and others serving the Lord lots of ministry involves dealing with drama. Because of this we often find ourselves as “firefighters” putting out fires caused by relationship issues, miscommunication, and stress.
My initial attempts to put out these fires were disastrous…but then the Lord helped me learn two very important lessons
- Your job isn’t to fix the problem, its to put out the fire
- Your goal isn’t to be understood, but make sure it never happens again
Your Job Isn’t to Fix the Problem
During my first years as a missionary when drama would result in blowups I saw it as my responsibility to explain why the person was wrong, and how they could do better in the future. It’s true that loving confrontation is a part of these situations however in the heat of the moment people are thinking with their emotions instead of their head. The most loving and gentle explanation will be seen by them as a direct attack.
It is to put out the fire
Because of this my question while approaching explosive drama changed.
Instead of “why has this happened?” it became “how do I defuse it?”
Experience has taught me it’s far wiser to put out the fire with wise words and then approach why the fire erupted in the first place.
Your goal isn’t to be understood
Let me say this as clearly as I can…you need to apologize
While this isn’t true for every case, in most of them you did something to create that raging inferno. And there is almost always a logical explanation why you did what you did.
We must remember rationalizing our actions is like throwing gas on the flame. It’s tempting in the heat of the moment to defend yourself (especially when being attacked) yet the heartfelt “I’m sorry” can still defuse the most volatile situation.
But make sure it never happens again
Apologizing means my mind instead of focusing on explaining why I’m right (or their wrong) is consumed with making sure it never happens again. Usually this means after dousing the fire with an apology I suggest a plan to make sure things don’t get this bad in the future.
Sadly ministry will still involve putting out one fire after another. But by God’s Grace we can use those heated moments to live out a Gospel that restores relationships.