How to Respond to the Unexpected

Image Courtesy of  cbenjasuwan

Image Courtesy of cbenjasuwan

Life is full of shocking surprises: the unplanned pregnancy, the layoff we didn’t see coming, the news of an affair that blindsided you, the premature death of someone you knew, an emergency phone call that informs you your child has been in an accident.  These are all life rattling events that can shake our lives to the core and there are many more that could be added to this list.

Whether or not the unexpected thing we are confronted with is major or minor, it is necessary that we know how to respond. I’ve learned that people commonly respond to unexpected news or events in three ways:

  • They Panic
  • They Become Fearful
  • They Shut Down

As a leader I’ve experienced all three responses and the results are never good.  Responding to the unexpected is a leadership skill that will help bring the proper perspective to any given situation.

Here are three uncommon ways I’ve learned how to respond to the unexpected.

  1. Remain Calm: When the unexpected comes we are immediately faced with the unknown. If you haven’t noticed, people don’t do well with the unknown and that’s when panic sets in.  Panic is a state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally. As leaders when we remain calm we can quench people’s feelings of fear with common sense.  Sometimes it’s best to remove yourself from the extreme feelings of the crowd so that you can find peace in the midst of the chaos. Remaining calm will help you make the right call!
  2. Be Strong and Courageous: When the unexpected comes we are immediately faced with fear. As leaders we have a choice to make. We can allow fear to paralyze us or we can be strong and find the courage to do what needs to be done. Courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult. Let’s face it, dealing with the unexpected many times causes us to look at our inability to deal with the the difficult. However; when we respond with strength and courage, we tap into a God given ability that opens doors to possibility.
  3. Do Something: When the unexpected comes the temptation is to do nothing. To do nothing or shut down when confronted with the unexpected is not an option. Make the phone call, send the encouraging card, tell someone, find out how you can help, make the trip, do the work and be willing TO DO whatever it takes to bring an uncommon response to the unforeseen circumstances that are unfolding before you.

What can you add to my uncommon responses? Leave a comment and help The Backseat Leader Community learn how to respond to the unexpected.


  1. says

    Loved the post, PD. I am sure this is already assumed but I will put it out here nonetheless. :) The first thing I do is pray. I ask what the Holy Spirit doing right now? How is heaven responding? I ask for words of wisdom and/or knowledge. What do I do right now, Lord? Sometimes it’s not saying a word. Other times it’s jumping in with both feet. Getting heavens perspective is huge for me.

    • says

      Yes! An afterthought I had that should have been included was HAVE HOPE and FAITH. Hope is having confident, joyful, expectation in the things we cant see during the unexpected! I kind of went extreme on the “unexpected” events but Sunday the power went out 20 minutes before our 1st service started and everyone was asking what do you want to do??? Needed a quick decision…chose to cancel which was the right thing to do power didn’t come back on until 10amm so we got our 2nd service in!

  2. Candy says

    Thanks for your post. I found this week I had several things that caused quite overwhelming panicky feelings, which was unusual for me. How to not feel those feelings I don’t know, maybe look at scriptures again on anxiety, security etc. One of the things made me want to be angry and justify myself – thankfully I didn’t as by the next day I could see it with a different perspective. Admittedly I had changed a few things in my life recently, and all my panics were associated with new things. I think it may be for me like a sort of PTS from a couple of events in my childhood where I had been completely unprepared….

  3. Candy says

    Also I did keep asking God for wisdom and tried to cast my care on Him, but would much rather not have to feel feelings like those, and after a couple of days have a lot more peace about these issues

  4. says

    “Remain calm” can’t be emphasized enough. 99% of the time cooler heads prevail (and don’t do something they regret). Easy to agree with and easy to forget about under fire.

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