When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Job 2:12-13 (NIV)
The leadership characteristic we look at today is Immediacy.
Immediacy – Affirms others for whom we are present – The ability to be totally present for another person at a particular point in time. This means that we must exercise the fruit of SELF-CONTROL to put away our own agenda for the situation and to listen carefully and prayerfully to others in need. This also means that we act in the present moment in time, which is a powerful tool. What is happening at this moment in time between you and another person is a strong and intimate force, which can be used for healing.
There is great value in the concept of just being present with people during times of stress, grief, or other difficult life events. In training my Lay Pastors at church, I used to tell them that there are often no “magic words” to say to people at certain times of stress. Just our loving presence is all that is necessary often times. There need be no pressure to come up with “just the right words” to say.
I used the example of Job, whose friends came to comfort him when tragedy befell him and his family. They were grief stricken for him before they came, and they were grief stricken with him when they first arrived. In fact, for the first seven days, they said nothing. They just sat with him and showed that they loved him and grieved with him. Interestingly enough, when they started to speak, and try to make sense of Job’s suffering, they made matters exponentially worse.
Often, we may be physically present with someone, but maybe not emotionally present. This means that while we are there, our full attention is not focused on helping the other person. Immediacy is that very intentional discipline to be fully with the person we are trying to support. That takes self-control, another of those wonderful fruits of the Spirit.
Prayer: Lord, give us the desire and discipline to be with people who need us, Amen.