Wise as Serpents, Gentle as Doves: Navigating Chaos with Grace

We must not be fooled; there is a difference between discernment and fear, and there is a difference between courage and ignorance. Men leading their homes must learn the difference.

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The other day I was talking to my brother on the phone while I was driving home from work and he asked me, “If everyone who got the coronavirus turned into a zombie, would you rather face The Walking Dead style zombies or the I Am Legend style zombies?”

Yep. Here we are. End of the world. I hope you have your toilet paper. Listen, I was halfway through writing on a different topic entirely for the blog. Then the coronavirus hysteria got real. I knew instantly I had to change the topic, and not just to be trendy.

I am only 26, and I am aware that I do not have near the experience as most men and fathers have with worrisome situations. In fact, this would be my first real “national panic” as a father. Right now I am father to my sweet 1 ½-year-old girl, Ellie, and husband to my beautiful wife, Cheyenne (who has kid number two in the oven right now). However, in my short 26 years, I do remember the scares of things like SARS, Swine flu, Ebola and Zika. Not to mention the Mayan world-ending prediction in 2012 or the North Korean threats, all of which came and went without the world ending.

There is no doubt we are living in times of turmoil, and I am in no way attempting to minimize the severity of the current situation, especially as it pertains to the loss of lives and loved ones. Once again, I am young and have zero medical expertise. However, I do know this; no man has ever led his family effectively from a place of fear, nor of ignorance.

My dad, who is also my pastor (where all my PK’s at?!), has always stressed the importance of balance in life and leadership. Being plunged into fear will get our families nowhere, and ignoring sound evidence and warnings will put us in harm and leave us behind.

We must not be fooled; there is a difference between discernment and fear, and there is a difference between courage and ignorance. Men leading their homes must learn the difference.

What I’m getting at is, that during times of crisis and, in this case, pandemics, men must lead their homes with discernment and wisdom, accompanied by action and preparedness.

As men and women who follow Jesus, we should not be consumed with fear. The media is projecting a very grim picture to us of what is to come, and many people are falling for it. Hence why you can’t find toilet paper anywhere! On the other end of the spectrum though, I know many who are intentionally turning a blind eye to the entire situation. For them, well, they will need some of that toilet paper to wipe some “you know what” off the fans. The bottom line is this; we shouldn’t be afraid, especially as those who follow Jesus, but we should be prepared for every situation.

The scripture that comes to mind as I contemplate this season is Matthew 10:16. “…Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” This is the balance we need now; wise as serpents, gentle as doves.

To be wise as serpents. What does that look like?

A wise man prepares for the worst and hopes for the best.
In Genesis 41 we read the story of Joseph, already gone through the trials set by God- the pit, slavery and prison- and now to a new mission. Joseph interprets Pharo’s dream of the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine and is placed with the responsibility of preparing for this harsh reality to come. God granted Joseph as his child and as a leader to interpret the times and prepare for the future. As followers of Jesus and as leaders of our home, God gives us this same discernment and guidance if we will seek his wisdom and listen for his voice. I cannot stress enough how vital it is for the health and safety of our families that we must pray and listen for God’s voice and guidance. God speaks, we must listen and prepare accordingly. Having a plan in place to prepare for “the famine”, or pandemic, or whatever else, is being wise as serpents.

Gentle as doves

In all this chaos, we as Christians are truly being handed a gift. We are being handed an incredible opportunity to extend compassion and to evangelize via generosity like never before. When others are paralyzed by fear, we can extend the peace we have in our assurance in Christ Jesus. When the world looks to hoard food and resources, we get to show generosity as Jesus showed us. While people are feeling mortal and vulnerable to sickness, we can show them the eternal joy and life we have found. When the world feels dark, we can shine brightly as the city on a hill! We must take advantage of every opportunity. Not to be the loudest or the pushiest, but to be the most generous and compassionate, and they will know we are Christians by our love. Matthew 5:40, “If a man asks you of your shirt, give him your coat also.” To edit that for our scenario presently, “If a man asks for your Purell, give him your Lysol also.”

As wild as these days are, with new information being thrown at us every day, we are assured, our God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. He saw this one coming, and he isn’t shocked. We have the Holy Spirit to give us both the discernment to guide us, and the grace to walk in compassion. Brothers and sisters, He’s got this, be at peace. God Bless.

Justin Capozzi – Guest of Discerning Dad


Featured Image by Atul Vinayak on Unsplash

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About the Author

Tim Ferrara, Founder of Discerning Dad (www.discerning-dad.com). Background in the church all my life. 20+ years of management experience. Current Executive Pastor of LifePoint Church in San Tan Valley. Author of Everyday Discernment and Eyes on Jesus. Host of the Eyes on Jesus Podcast