Over the past few years, my wife and I renewed our CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification. As I revisited the procedures and mindset of one working on behalf of another in need, I could not but help think of some parallels to church life. Disclaimer: I have never actually had to implement my CPR skills.
1. CPR requires intense focus, effort, and initiative on the part of the one implementing CPR
The one in need typically does not request CPR but relies on someone who is prepared and equipped to take the initiative to get involved and start the process of resuscitation.
As we reach out to those in need spiritually, we need to be prepared to invest individual effort.
2. CPR requires interacting with someone in ways that you normally do not interact with them
The actual process of CPR (chest compressions and rescue breathing) requires you to touch and interact with someone in ways that may seem uncomfortable and downright scary. There is the possibility of touching their body fluids and getting “dirty.”
As we reach out to those in need spiritually, we need to be prepared to have some uncomfortable and complicated conversations as we address issues that overlap with someone’s experiences, emotions, and hurts.
3. CPR is not done the same way for all those in need
How I apply chest compressions is tailored to the person in need: I don’t push on an infant’s chest in the same way as I would an adult's. If something is blocking the victim’s airway that needs to be removed by hand or if abdominal thrusts are required to eject an object causing choking, I need to consider whether the person is pregnant or obese. The end goal is the same, but how I arrive there probably will differ based on the individual person.
People react differently to different approaches, but our end goal should be spiritual renewal and redemption.
As we reach out to those in need spiritually, we need to be prepared to customize our approach. People react differently to different approaches, but our end goal should be spiritual renewal and redemption.
4. The goal in CPR is to maintain life long enough so that more qualified individuals (i.e., emergency medical services) can take over the care of the individual
In every case of CPR I can think of, the rescuer should initiate a call for help: he or she should not go solo with no hope of additional help. Use whatever tools are at your disposal to make the call.
As we reach out to those in need spiritually, be prepared to seek divine help and work to connect them to spiritually grounded individuals who can join the “rescue” effort. In some cases, professional help may be part of the recovery process.
5. If other CPR-trained individuals are on the scene, team up in your efforts
Draw on the strengths of others who are knowledgeable and take turns in your resuscitation efforts. Remind each other of effective CPR methods and work together to optimize the rescue.
As we reach out to those in need spiritually, we need to be ready to team up with others who are working toward the same goal and communicate so that our efforts are coordinated and complementary to each other's.
The ability to intervene on behalf of someone else truly provides an opportunity to make a difference—both medically and spiritually. May God grant us wisdom as we work as His ambassadors in this world of need.