How to Respond to the Unexpected

The alternator light in my car lit up just before I got home last night. At the same time, I discovered my power steering stopped working. When I looked under the hood, my suspicion was confirmed. The big serpentine belt was shredded into pieces (along with a broken pulley).

I made arrangements to have my car fixed and borrow my wife’s car for today. Within minutes of getting into my wife’s car and heading to a meeting, the alternator light came on and the power steering stopped working. You guessed it. Under the hood, the big serpentine belt was shredded into pieces.


“A four-second pause-the time it takes to take one breath in, one breath out-can be powerful enough to subvert a poor decision and replace it with a smarter one.”

Peter Bregman in Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want

Without a pause, I run the risk of reacting impulsively to the situation. I would:

  • Get upset
  • Be mad at God for allowing this to happen
  • Sit and sulk for hours at the service station while the cars are being repaired
  • Worry about the potential cost of the repairs

Fortunately, I did not respond in this way.  But it doesn’t come naturally to me. It is something I have to continually work on with God’s help.


Self-control is critical.

When Paul mentions the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, self-control is on the list. Proverbs 25:28 compares a person without self-control to a city that is broken down and left without walls.

For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

Don’t depend on yourself to develop self-control. It requires the power of Holy Spirit who is in us. That is one of the reasons God sent Holy Spirit to help us (if we allow Him).

React or Respond?

When the unexpected happens as you prepare and lead your small group, do you react or respond?

Reacting is doing the first thing that comes to mind or that you feel like doing.

Responding is putting your emotions aside and first considering what you should do and then doing it. It requires you to pause and think between the unexpected event and how you respond. It requires self-control.

Start praying now and asking God to help you in this area, then listen for what you should do.

The next time the unexpected happens, pause and do the right thing.

Question: What are some ways small groups leaders can build a habit of self-control?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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