How to Respond to Tragedy as a Leader

How to Respond to Tragedy as a Leader

Tragedies actually create a moment when we can shift our dependence from what is temporary to something that will last forever.

The past few years have been particularly difficult for our country. It feels like we can hardly turn on the news anymore without hearing of another tragic incident. Part of our responsibility as leaders is to come alongside people who have faced tragedy. Sooner or later, you’re going to be called to reach out to people who are facing unparalleled grief. When that time comes, you’re going to need to step up and provide encouraging comfort and care.

Here are a few helpful approaches I’ve learned through the years in terms of caring for people as a leader:

1. WELCOME EMOTION

I think the first thing is to encourage people to express their emotions to God. It’s not healthy to repress our emotions or deny they exist because God created us to feel these emotions, and He doesn’t expect us to act happy when we’re grieving. Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount, “God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted.” That means as leaders we have to remind our people that it’s okay to be honest about the challenges we’re facing and what we’re going through.

2. EMPATHIZE WITH PAIN

The second thing I’ve learned: Empathize with people struggling through difficult circumstances. Encourage them to receive help and to receive care from others. Often, it’s a huge mistake to isolate yourself when you’re going through a struggle. Everyone needs the support, encouragement and presence of other people, especially in the aftermath of a tragedy.

I’m reminded of Galatians 6:2. When we carry one another’s burdens, when we reach out to those who are hurting and oppressed, that is when we’re living out what Christ teaches in terms of love, grace and compassion.

3. POINT TO HOPE

Finally, the last thing we can do as leaders is to help people realize that tragedies actually create a moment when we can shift our dependence from what is temporary to something that will last forever. Through difficult situations God always teaches that we may experience major loss, but we will never, ever lose relationship with Him. He promised to never leave us or forsake us, and that’s a forever security that we can build our lives on.