How To Be There When Your Friend Is Suffering

How to Be There When Your Friend Is Suffering

Blog originally found by Jessica Thompson on The Resurgence

When someone you love is hurting, it can sometimes feel hard to know what to do or say without sounding trite. How can we love others through suffering without platitudes?

“My daughter is pregnant.”

The text about a friend’s unwed teenage daughter felt like a punch in the stomach. I was undone.

I was also hopeful though, because I know how God loves to take the most broken situations and turn them into the most beautiful. So I crafted a text back, one that I thought would be encouraging.

But after I hit the send button, I knew it was wrong. It was too formulaic, too lite, not enough of me entering into her pain.


Have you ever been in a period of your life when it seems like every text, every email, every phone call is bad news? There is real hurt and brokenness everywhere you look. The effects of sin seem to be devastating, and life and its discouragements seem endless and hopeless. Every “Christian” or “religious” phrase you know sounds empty and almost embarrassing.

Where do we go during these times? How do we encourage others who are in the middle of these times?

First, we need to stop trying to fix each other. We need to just enter into the hurt, sit there with our friends, and stop trying to make it better.

Sometimes, every “Christian” or “religious” phrase you know sounds empty and almost embarrassing.

Henri Nouwen writes,

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.


When our friends are hurting or we are hurting, we don’t have to rush through it. When we do look for words to encourage, may we look to God alone.

Psalm 121 has been burning in my heart recently. Where does our help come from? The Psalmist says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made the heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1–2). This was a song of ascent as travelers would enter Jerusalem.

We need to just enter into the hurt, sit there with our friends, and stop trying to make it better.

Where does our true and only help come from? From an event that happened thousands of years ago on a hill near Jerusalem. On that hill our Savior endured a suffering that we should shudder to think of. The maker of heaven and earth came and took on our body of flesh so that we might know he understands our suffering.


We can be assured that “He will not let your foot be moved: he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:3–4). There is not a time when God’s watchful eye is averted from his loved ones.

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night” (Ps. 121:5–6). There is not an instance where our Heavenly Father is unconcerned about our well-being.

When our friends are hurting or we are hurting, we don’t have to rush through it.

“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Ps. 121:7–8). This is the promise that was withheld from Christ on our behalf. As he suffered on that hill, the Lord did not keep him from all evil. He actually experienced all the effects of our sin all so that we could hear a resounding, “The Lord will keep you forevermore.” Christ heard silence as he cried out to God so that we could hear “the Lord will keep your life.”

Where does our help come from? It comes from the triune God’s sacrifice for us and his eternal communion with us. In every doubt, in every fear, in every moment of anger, he promises to be at your right hand. He has already paid for all of your mistrust. God looks at you and sees the perfect record of his Son trusting the Father’s plan without fear or doubt. There is real pain in this life, but praise God we have a Savior, a Rescuer, a Keeper that is ours forever.


In light of all of this, what should you do when your friend is suffering?

Pray for the Holy Spirit to work through you with your hurting friend. Learn how to sit in the pain with them and not try to rush through it. Love your friend the way you have been loved: patiently, gently, and tenderly.

Remember that all your failures as a friend are forgiven in Christ. He will use your imperfections to drive his children into his arms where they can find true rest and relief.


Effectively Influencing Good Change


As a leader you will be placed in various realms of influence where you will be constantly tested. Leaders are presented daily with situations that will shed some light into their leadership style. Many leaders often fall into two categories – the thermometer style leader or thermostat style leader.

Thermometer – Reflector of the climate around it

Thermostat – Setter of the climate around it

The leader that tends to lean towards the thermometer style only reflects the climate. They can only tell the temperature, but cannot influence it.  Many say this style of leadership really isn’t a style at all. This person tends to be very negative around negativity. They think of themselves in a very status-quo form and are unwilling to stand up for what’s right.

The leader that learns the thermostat style becomes the person that is positive in the midst of trouble. They are an influencer for good and stand up for what is right in the face of opposition. The thermostat leader is the one you want, not only when things are going wrong, but when things are going right as well.

“You must be able to first read the climate to lead the climate” – Dr. Tim Elmore

Inside every thermostat is a thermometer. The thermometer is not a bad thing, it reads what’s happening and gives data on that. But, if you leave it at that it is not near as effective as a thermostat that can read the climate, and influence it as well.

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? – Luke 6:39

It’s important to see that even Jesus presented this principle. You simply cannot be an effective leader without understanding the principle of the thermostat. Great leaders influence their areas of influence for good, in a positive way. Not living with the negative status-quo.

– Sean Doherty

Feeding Yourself First


In my previous blog post, I wrote about how it is imperative that before leaders lead anyone, they must lead themselves first. Today, I would like to spend sometime sharing with you another aspect of a leader’s practice.

I heard Tim Elmore tell a story a while ago that really helped me understand this principle titled The Starving Baker. In this story we learn that there is a young man who only wants to sell bread at a local shop. He quickly learns that he is great at selling and quickly made a hefty profit. Before he knew it word was spreading and lines of people were forming down the road before his shop opened just so they could get some of his bead! Exited as could be, the young leader worked and worked and never took time to relax… or even eat. Eventually this young man became thinner, and thinner, before almost starving himself to death.

The leader in this business did everything he thought right to satisfy the demand at hand. Ironically towards the end of the story, the baker has a bunch of bread, but he won’t eat for himself.  This could be because of his time, or because of his greed for money.  If he continued in this pattern he would eventually die; not helping himself or anyone else.

As leaders today, especially in our fast paced environments, we must take time to feed ourselves first. If not, eventually we will become useless to everyone.

Does it seem counter-productive to feed yourself first? Does it seem like a waste of time? Sometimes sure, but rest assured it is worth it.

Let this story remind you to take the time to relax, take breaks, and find yourself. If you follow Christ take the time to read your Bible and reflect on what God is saying to you.

As leaders it is imperative that we feed ourselves first, so we can offer more later.

Leading Yourself First


We’ve all heard an authority figure in our life say, “study hard and all the prep work will pay off on test day!” As a child I would always laugh and say “yeah right…” But, as I have grown it’s become more obvious that spending extra time preparing for things really does pay off. Whether it’s a test, possible relationship, or our life in general, we cannot afford to just wing it.

In comes the iceberg principle of leadership. A physical iceberg actually only has a little over 10% of its body visible. The other 90% is hidden beneath the surface.


This principle shows what you as a person are made up of a 10% visible presence. This 10% refers to your skills. Skills are mainly your natural:

– Abilities
– Talents
– Visible Traits

The other 90% refers to your character. This is where you truly will begin to realize the “prep work” idea we talked about earlier. Character can be divided into four main categories:

– Self Discipline
– Emotional Security
– Values & Ethics
– Sense of Identity


As leaders we must focus of the 90%. If we don’t we are doomed to fail eventually. If the iceberg didn’t have its 90% support the 10% above water would soon flop. The same is true for you.

Lead yourself first, before you lead anyone else.

– Sean Doherty

“A good tree doesn’t produce rotten fruit, and a rotten tree doesn’t produce good fruit. Each tree is known by its fruit. You don’t pick figs from thorny plants or grapes from a thornbush. Good people do the good that is in them. But evil people do the evil that is in them. The things people say come from inside them.” – Luke 6:43-45

For more inspirational images of leadership check out Tim Elmore here.



12 Communication Tips From The World’s Best Communicators.

Recently I’ve seen a lot of people become upset with the levels of communication in today’s society. Whether it be smaller realms of communication such as a family member, friend, or boss to communications that reach many people like the president or your pastor, it can become very frustrating when not handled the right way. I was online and saw this article on BusinessWeek and I thought I’d share! Let me know what you think, I really hope this helps you become a better leader and communicator in your area of influence today.

1. Jack Welch (Former CEO of General Electric)
– Best communication asset: Simplicity   Tip: Eliminate jargon.

2. Steve Jobs (Former CEO of Apple)
 Best communication asset: Charisma  Tip: Create and articulate a bold vision.

3. Meg Whitman (CEO of Ebay)
– Best communication asset: Penchant for listening  Tip: Seek feedback.

4. John Chambers (CEO of Cisco Systems)
 Best communication asset: Preparedness  Tip: Review and rehearse your presentation.

5. David Neeleman (CEO of JetBlue Airways)
 Best communication asset: Talent for storytelling  Tip: Tell tales that inspire.

6. Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
 Best communication asset: Passion  Tip: Identify and share what you’re passionate about.

7. Suze Orman (Author, TV Host)
 Best communication asset: Clarity of expression  Tip: Break down complex information into easy parts.

8. Rudy Giuliani (Former NYC Mayor)
– Best communication asset: Ability to make eye contact  Tip: Spend 90% of the time looking at your audience.

9. John Thompson(CEO of Symantec)
 Best communication asset: Facileness with optimistic language  Tip: Employ powerful and positive words.

10. Klaus Kleinfeld (CEO of Siemens)
 Best communication asset: Ability to reinvent  Tip: Stay fresh, remain current.

11. Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle)
 Best communication asset: Looking like a leader  Tip: Pay attention to what your wardrobe says about you.

12. Richard Branson (CEO of Virgin Group)
 Best communication asset: Generosity with praise  Tip: Lavish appropriate praise on employees, customers, and colleagues.

Setting Yourself Up For A Win

After watching this years Olympics i’ve been inspired to step up my gym time. I was reminded the other day that the men and women who won gold medals could not have done it without some time in their own gym! Any person who has had experience in a gym will tell you it is extremely important to workout a specific way.

Some people are turned off from the gym because they aren’t getting any results. But, sometimes it is just because you don’t know how to effectively “workout”.  To see if your workout flow is good you first need to ask yourself this question “Why am I here?”

For the most part, Americans visit the gym for two key reasons

–       To Lose Weight

–       To Gain Muscle

After you know for sure why you are at the gym, now you can move into “how” you should effectively workout.

For example lets say you are looking to lose 30 pounds. You should work on cardio (treadmill, elliptical, bicycle, etc.) first, and then move onto some strength building machines later. This is because your body is at it’s peak not halfway through your workout but at the start.

However, if you are in good shape but want to gain muscle you should move into the strength building area (Machines, free weights, abs cruncher etc.) first. Then after you can move and do a little cardio to help shred that chilidog off!

When you have your mission outlined you can develop a way to effectively move towards your goal, and set yourself up for a win.

What’s Your Stone Idol?

Sometimes I feel like Christians read through some of the Old Testament and skip over a lot of information. We even skip books because the mind-set is “oh that will never apply to my life today…” But, the truth is the Old Testament is filled with great stories, historical events, and songs that are all there for a reason.

I was reading through the book of numbers (one of those typically skipped books) and after reading this passage I needed to stop and take a second to think about it. To read the scripture in context Moses, Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the community had been leading Israel and the Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks and wanted some of their land to farm on. Moses said to honor them and the Lord they must cross the Jordan and concur the land with their soldiers. So then Moses said

“As you advance, force out all the people who live there. Get rid of all their stone and metal idols, and destroy all their places of worship. Take possession of the land and live there, because I will give it to you for your own.” Numbers 33:52-52 GWT

So when they went to take the land they needed to

–        Force out the people

–        Get rid of stone and metal idols

–        Destroy all places of false worship

I believe we can all learn from this story. When you want to break the chains in your life, family, relationship, friends, etc. how are you doing it? Are you just sitting back saying I want your will? Or, will you be bold enough to stop standing in hope and start walking in faith?

Will you trust God to take out some unnecessary people who are in your life?

Will you walk with him and destroy all false stone idols that need to crumble?

Will you destroy they places your heart goes to worship a false God?

God spoke through Moses to give his people instructions on what to do. And, i believe these aren’t just boning old ritualistic rules. But they are applicable today.

– Sean Doherty