The whole northeast of the US was on high alert this week for the mother of all snowstorms that was about to happen. Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, the names itself brought fear to every inhabitant of the east coast. Massachusetts issued a travel ban, New York canceled all flights, folks were hoarding toilet paper and water.
The first prediction for my area (just north of Albany, NY) was 10 inches of snow. The result was zero. We got nothing, nada, niente.
The next day, we were supposed to get four inches. We got one.
Yesterday they predicted three to four inches. We got nothing. Well, it snowed last night and that amassed to maybe an inch. Plus it’s snowing even as I write this, so who knows, we might actually get another inch. Which is pretty normal here this time of year; we had way worse last winter.
As a result, the credibility of the National Weather Service took a hit and many people ridiculed their predictions. No doubt, for the next few weeks, or even months, people will take their predictions less seriously. And that could have potential serious consequences.
There’s an old fable about Peter and the wolf. It’s about a boy named Peter who keeps shouting ‘there’s a wolf!’—only to inform his village neighbors that it was a joke. Till one day a wolf really shows up and Peter tries to warn them…but they don’t believe him anymore.
Credibility is a valuable commodity in youth ministry as well. You can only cry ‘wolf’ so many times before students or parents stop taking you seriously.
What do you warn about most? Where do you truly put the ‘fear of God’ for in your students or your parents? And is it worth it?
I try to save the direst warnings for things that are literal life-or-death issues…or even eternal ones. The rest I discuss of course, but I tone down my warnings and predictions. I’m protective of my credibility.
Personally, I don’t blame the National Weather Service. Predicting the weather is far from an exact science. As the chaos theory has taught us: one butterfly in Spain can change the weather here, so there’s that (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, try re-watching Jurassic Park!). I’d rather be forewarned and be pleasantly surprised than to get caught in a snowstorm unexpectedly. But that’s just me.