A Note from Chris Adams: This is part two on this topic by Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA). You can read part one here. There is no doubt we will face difficult seasons in life as we lead. But we also will be connecting with women who are in difficult seasons, and we need to equip ourselves to help them navigate through those times as well.
One moment everything is fine, and in the next everything has changed. Bad news. In the last week, three of my friends have received devastatingly bad news. Each responded differently and each received the news from different sources and in unique ways.
People Respond in Bad News Scenarios in Three Ways:
- Denial: “It’s not that bad; if I get really busy or think about your problems instead of mine, then everything is just fine.”
- Drama: “Oh my goodness! Nobody has EVER had anything this bad happen to them. Why is it always me?”
- Dive in: “I’m going to dive right into this and find solutions. I’m going to dive in and see how God is at work in this situation.”
As leaders, we can help women going through bad news, or we can make things worse!
Here some things we need to avoid when someone receives bad news:
- Comparing it to someone else’s bad news.
- Trying to ignore the news. You talk about the weather, the news, a new hairdo—anything to keep from talking about the news.
- Trying to fix the problem.
- Avoiding the person because you do not know what to say.
- Making promises you cannot keep, such as, “It’s all going to be OK,” or “I’ll be with you every step of the way,” or “It will be better tomorrow.” We cannot know how things will work out or what God is going to do.
- Trivializing the news.
- Over-spiritualizing. Drowning the receiver of bad news in tons of Scripture rather than listening and sharing meaningful biblical help only shows insensitivity rather than God’s love.
Here’s how can we help someone who has received bad news:
- Be there.
- Pray together.
- Enlist prayer warriors to continue to provide prayer support.
- Listen! Listen to hear and understand.
- A hug says more than words!
- Show God’s love by being present.
- Help in practical ways.
- Avoid the temptation to want to fix the problem; instead, demonstrate dependence on God’s help.
- Continue to be there after the initial shock of the bad news.
At times, it seems that how the bad news is delivered makes all the difference. We will all have to share bad news at some point. Being prepared to do so in the most positive way possible makes all the difference in the impact of the news.
Here are some tips for how to share bad news:
- Pray before sharing the news.
- Discern if there is someone else who should share the news. There may be someone closer who could soften the news or who understands the situation more thoroughly.
- Take a moment to process personal emotions.
- Consider writing down what needs to be shared. Read over it to see if all vital facts are included.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Repeat the news to make sure it is understood.
- Do not speculate on further information. Tell only what is known.
- Answer questions. If the answers are unknown, be honest.
- Pray with the receiver of the bad news.
- Offer practical help.
- Ensure the receiver is not alone and has the assistance needed.
- Keep the news confidential until the receiver is willing to share the news with others.
- Continue to check with the receiver of the bad news, pray for the receiver, and help in practical ways.
Bad news does not have to scar us for life. We can choose to see God at work through this situation. God can use our bad news to take us to a new place, teach us something wonderful about His character and love for us, or remove us from a potentially bad situation. Bad news does not have to stay bad!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.