How important is it to stay calm in the midst of anxiety? Pretty important, especially if you have any type of leadership role. If you do, then you have an added responsibility – don’t add to the anxiety.
Sometimes though, it’s also important to create an anxiety situation. When? When things are a bit too structured and control – when there is no willingness to be open to how God is at work and how we the people of the church are standing in the way.
Overall, leaders in the church have a responsibility to create a calm environment, but not a dull environment. There is a difference. A calm environment can move forward, can carry out the mission. Anxiety usually sucks all the energy and bottles up the resources of a congregation because there is a fear of loss.
In the US we are surrounded by a culture and society that is controlled by fear and anxiety. Questions that have no answers abound. People express fears about foreigners, financial situations, broken relationships, jobs and careers, sex, safety, and more. Creating a calm environment doesn’t me that a person has all the answers. Mostly, you never will. That’s not the point. A calm environment is somewhere where the questions and fears and anxieties can be raised without shame, without attack, without fear of reprisal or dismissal.
We can listen, without making the anxiety our own. We can listen without letting fear take us over. We can listen without even agreeing. Often, listening is what is needed – a person who is expressing a fear or anxiety needs someone to listen and hear them and their concern – to acknowledge the legitimacy of their concern and themselves.