Forty years ago, I was a young police officer trained as a Hostage Negotiator. The new and developing science of hostage negotiation was beginning to find a place in many large metropolitan police agencies across the nation. As negotiators, we were sent into life and death situations hoping to find a peaceful resolution.
In these loud and highly stressful scenarios one of our first tasks was to deescalate the emotions of the hostage taker. We needed to bring the emotions and resulting conversation down to a level where we could begin to find a peaceful resolution. This would only happen in a two-way conversation. The deescalation would many times take place while a suspect was holding a gun to someone’s head or the threat of an explosion from a destructive device was imminent. The emotion exhibited in these high stress situations did not appear over night. Sometimes these events were the result of entire lifetime of pent up emotions and finally losing their remaining bit of self-control in a moment of desperation.
I would begin the process of deescalation by talking in a barely audible voice. This would cause the suspect to stop yelling and consciously lower his voice if he wanted to hear what I had to say. Our conversation became his link to the outside world and to freedom, even though I represented authority. After we had a few back and forth exchanges the conversation would eventually come down to a volume level where I could hear his demands and ask how I could help. It was amazing to see how that single technique of lowering the volume of the conversation would begin shifting the situation from the potential outcome of death to one of life.
As a culture, we are living in a noisy, anger-driven world. Years of pent up emotions are beginning to boil over and this has created a loud and unhearing audience. God is about to reveal the power of a prophetic word spoken with the quiet confidence of the Spirit. Increased volume does not gain anyone’s attention nor does it carry the authority of your voice. Our culture is floating in a cacophony of human emotion where the “loudest” voice will be the most gentle and in the end, the most impacting. If you are going to be heard as a trustworthy prophetic voice you will need to take the volume of these heated conversations down to a level where angry and frustrated people can be in a place to hear the word of the Lord. In that quiet moment you will be able to release a word of hope that can actually be heard. That word has the potential to turn an angry and hate-filled conversation into a place of potential freedom and hope.