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Stop With The Empty Christian Clichés

Monday, I walked up to a family friend I’ve known for almost forty years but had not seen in a long time. She had lost everything she owned in the AL tornado. Her son and daughter-in-law had just been killed by the tornado. Their three daughters were still in the hospital. Her other son is still in the hospital in critical condition. She knows I am a pastor. They don’t go to church. I said “Hello,” and the first words out of her mouth were, “Shawn, don’t give me any Christian clichés. I don’t want or need them.” I have never agreed MORE with a statement than that one. “No clichés here,” I said, “Just love.” Would that be OK?” I embraced her and began to cry with her.

When my mom died at the age of forty, countless people filed in our home and by her casket with words like:

“She is in a better place.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“God is still in control.”

I knew what these people were trying to say. They actually didn’t know what to say so it sounded right at the time. However, what I wanted was for someone to say something like, “Shawn, this stinks, and I am as mad as hell, as are you!” (How’s that for honest?) What I wanted was someone to hurt with me, understand me, be on my team, NOT give me easy answers. There’s a time and place for everything. Sometimes, Scripture and counsel are needed. However, when people are at all-time lows, what they need is just someone who will cry with them and AGREE with the injustice they see. I truly believe that’s what Paul was saying to the church when he wrote:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Rom 12:15 (NIV)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2 (NIV)

So the next time someone’s hurting and you don’t know what to say, there may be a reason. You might not need to say anything. Just cry with them. Bear their burdens. I know from experience; it means more than a Christian cliché.  

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Shawn is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com. His heart beats for coaching leaders and helping them all conquer what keeps them up at night. Shawn previously served as Founding and Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church, and Directional Leader for churchplanters.com, and the annual Velocity Conference. Due to both demand and calling, Shawn has now devoted himself full-time to coaching leaders.