Over the next couple of weeks, we will be putting together a training session on how to read and deescalate a possible dangerous situation. There are so many books you can learn this from but until you actually have the hands-on training it is difficult to really know how you will react where just one word can send you or the person you are talking to right off the deep end. I just read a good piece and will pass on some of the highlights from an article written by Eric Barker, “This Is How To Be Charming: 5 Secrets From Research”.
In this article Barker states “Harvard research shows 80% of our judgments about people come down to warmth and competence. And the more important quality is warmth. We’ll take a lovable moron over a competent jerk more often than not.” To a Safety Team Member warmth is a valuable tool to have and use, who doesn’t want to talk to someone that appears to be listening and interested in the issue at hand without being judgmental. But a Safety Team Member also needs to be on alert of a person that walks in with a big smile on his face but yet the more and more you talk to this person the hairs on the back of your neck continue to stand up. Wolves in sheep clothing can be cunning and dangerous, especially if they feel that they are safe in their actions. David wrote in Psalms 64, “1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. 3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.” We as Watchmen/Watchwomen need to repeat this prayer everyday we serve. David goes on to say “5 They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” 6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.”
A few years back we had a person come into our church with a smile that could “charm the skin off a snake”. Warm and personable to the point where everyone fell in love with this guy. Watching him I noticed things, that not only myself but other Safety Team Members noticed, that caused us major concerns. When he told his testimony, there wasn’t a dry eye in the worship center, but we kept seeing holes in his demeanor, his statements and the way he carried himself around the church, especially around the female church members. We had to be careful with our concern because most of the members and staff of the church felt this guy was the real deal. The Safety Team Ministry was still new, and some members and staff didn’t feel we needed this ministry and was waiting for us to make a mistake. I remember the pastor contacting me and telling me that this person was going to be baptized and wanted to make sure I was okay with this. That he really wanted me to welcome this person into the church but knew of my anxieties. I explained to my pastor that if this person was truly coming to the Lord and had changed then I would be happy to work with him in his walk with the Lord. As we started to finish our phone conversation that pastor said to me that he appreciated what we and the Team were doing and please keep up the excellent work. Then he told me he still wanted me to keep an eye on this new member. This caught me off guard, but it appeared that even the pastor has some concerns.
Before the baptism this person gave his testimony on the big monitors in the church and once again there was not a dry eye in the house. There was celebration in the church for this person’s change of heart, accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior. If WE could save this man, the world was the limit! It wasn’t even several weeks later that the sheep’s clothing came off and the wolf in him took advantage of one of our trusting members. We, as the Safety Team didn’t jump up and yell “We told you so”, no that is not our job, our job was to pray for those that had been hurt, ask the Holy Spirit to help us with forgiving this person and then praying for him that God would show him his wrong ways or as David finished out in Psalm 64, “7 But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. 8 He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. 9 All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. 10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!” We as Safety Team Members must not judge, let us leave that to the Lord. But we must make sure that we “give ourselves no rest”. For Satan is out there, looking for his next victim or victims to devour.
So back to Eric’s article, he goes on to say to work on:
• The Fundamental Dynamic: Warmth is more important than competence. Better to be seen as a lovable idiot than a cold competent Evil Genius (this is my addition to this remember Columbo, loveable idiot but always got his man).
• Put in some effort, willya?: They will judge the interactions by how they feel they did. So, help them do good. Gracious host make and effort.
• Small talk – seek similarity: And once you’ve found it, offer a sincere compliment, show vulnerability, and ask for advise.
• They need to know you’re listening: Ask open-ended questions, be active and constructive, and contribute but don’t one-up.
• Give them the thing we all want: We all want to feel understood. Understand?
We all want to share God’s love, but we need to be a great listener and show them that you care before we can get to the root of the problem and be able to pray the right way. Listen but remember that during this time we have to be alert to things that may cause us issues and concerns. We will be training on just how to do this in the future. Watch for the dates.
Be safe and thank you for your valuable effort in this most important ministry of protecting Christ’s Bride.
Your brother in Christ,
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Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.