Whether it is making a simple weekend plan or figuring out exactly how to help someone struggling with fear, worry or anxiety; we can quickly get frustrated. Our identity as ambassadors for Jesus Christ who speak grace according to the need of the moment, can instantly degrade into something like Genghis Kahn demanding food after a long day of marauding the countryside. Bringing clarity and resolution to the issues in our hearts is not turn-key. Wisdom, discernment, and understanding are needed but those usually require more time. Where do you start? How do you minister in the moment especially if you’re short on time? Here is a helpful little diagnostic tool that quickly brings initial clarity and a way forward.
It is what I call the “1 to 10 scale”. Sophisticated isn’t it? To bring definition to an otherwise complicated, and sometimes emotional situation, especially when time is short I will sometimes ask, “On a 1-10 scale, 1 being good, 10 being bad… how do you feel about the situation?” Or, I might say, “Rate each of the three issues you are struggling with.” Or, “Over the past two weeks, how intense has your struggle been with this?”
If someone is struggling with fear, worry, and anxiety. I will ask, “On the WAF scale (worry, anxiety, and fear) where are you? A “1, 2, or 3” answer means the issue is not exigent. I can give a word of encouragement, pray about it with them and move on–but come back to it. On the other hand, an “8, 9, or 10” means that I need to take time for a fuller conversation now or soon.
When trying to communicate, I find the scale extremely helpful. When I can’t figure out exactly how one feels about something such as a career path or how one feels about a particular friend for example, a number is quite helpful in cutting through the conflicting emotions and forces a clearer idea of the intensity of the struggle.
Certainly, it would be counterproductive to reduce all such conversations to the 1-10 scale. This is only a diagnostic tool. But it is helpful tool at certain times. While it is not sufficient to deal with most situations, it is a decent barometer for discernment, understanding, and formulating a word of grace in the moment.