The last two days I have spent with our Emergency Management department in McDowell County. Monday afternoon I sat in a room with leaders of every county agency in our first (of many) coordination meetings. One phrase came to mind as I listened to leaders share ideas, resources and solutions: competent compassion. We are blessed in McDowell County with competent, compassionate leaders.

I am convinced that in any crisis we have a choice: underprepare and be overwhelmed, overprepare and perhaps (hopefully) be underwhelmed. I always prefer the latter.

So what does competent compassion look like?

Competent compassion faces facts honestly

The threat is real. To ignore it is to ignore what’s happened around the world. This differs from the flu in two primary ways: it is highly contagious and has a higher morbidity rate among those who are at risk. We have an invisible enemy that is no respecter of persons. Someone can be contagious without being symptomatic. The coronavirus is a formidable enemy. Competent compassion faces that reality.

Competent compassion collaborates

At Monday’s meeting, our leaders brought their ideas, resources and personnel to bear on this problem. One thing no one brought: their egos. Everyone checked their egos at the door. Competent compassion focuses on others, not ourselves. Competent compassion has a singular focus: eradicating the problem that is threatening those under our care. As government, law enforcement, school, emergency and church leaders of McDowell County, we are committed to doing our best to protect and provide. I know we are committed to that.

Competent compassion cares

If competent compassion had a single-worded definition it is sacrifice. Competent compassion puts others before ourselves. The reality is that this virus is most deadly to older people. Just because you are young doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible. What makes you feel bad can cause someone else to die. If you’re young, serve in two ways: by helping others who need your help (go to and sign up on “I Can Help”), and by staying away from large gatherings (where you can contract the virus and unknowingly pass it to someone at risk).

One final word: God is for us.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32, ESV)

We cannot forget this. God has met our greatest need. And if he will meet our greatest need, he will not neglect our lesser needs.

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