Chicken Little Syndrome



--written by Rev. Shana Johnson

This is the third installment of a series I created and entitled "Renewing Our Minds." Below is a sort of fact sheet that you might find as a pamphlet in the waiting room of a doctor's office or as a page on WebMD.

It is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek way of not only offering ourselves the grace and humor to be honest about our spiritual struggles, but also as a way to begin a wider conversation about those things that exist and we see in our personal lives and in the lives of our churches...yet rarely speak of openly. My hope in sharing this with you is to spark some reflection and conversation.

CLS: A Panic Disorder That Can Hinder Growth

CLS, better known as the "Chicken Little Syndrome", is a common panic disorder which occurs in children or adults alike when faced with situations or circumstances that seem out of the ordinary. When a person suffers from CLS, the fear response is out of proportion for the situation. Unfortunately, the symptoms and conditions that accompany CLS can have a contagious effect in the church, often at times hindering growth.

What causes CLS?

A person suffering from CLS can develop a constant fear of anything that is out of the ordinary. Usually the onset of CLS is due to stressful situations in which the person no longer feels in control. The more things seem out of one's control, the more the symptoms of CLS emerge in one's life.

Common Symptoms of CLS: "Chicken Little Syndrome"

The most common symptoms of CLS include:

Intense feelings of doom and gloom.

A constant feeling that "the other shoe is going to drop."

A deep fear that things are spinning out of control.

A preoccupation with considering the worst case scenarios.

Focusing completely on the negative with total disregard to

the positives of a situation.

Self diagnosis You may suffer from CLS if:    

New ideas or new situations cause you a great deal of worry

and stress.

You find yourself anticipating all the things that can go wrong instead of rejoicing

in all the things that can go right.

You find yourself spending a great deal of time talking about how things used to

be instead of how things could be.

You jump to conclusions instead of solutions.

Your presence or contributions to a conversation or situation shut down new

ideas instead of opening up room for possibilities.


Although this is not an instant cure for CLS, here are some simple ways to reduce the negative effects of the "Chicken Little Syndrome."

Step 1: Be Patient: 

"And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." --Galatians 6:9

Don't jump to conclusions, wait and gather more information. Things are not always as they first appear. One difficult faith learning for all believers is that God's time is not the same as our time and so patience is a virtue that will reap many rewards.

Step 2: Be Positive:

"Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God calls us to be a light onto the world, not a wet blanket. Positive attitudes are contagious just as negative ones are. Force yourself to see the good in a situation. Instead of listing all the bad things in your mind, try listing all the good.

Step 3: Be Proactive:

"Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!" --Matthew 4:19

God calls us to be doers of the word, not merely hearers.

Don't be a backseat driver.

Get involved and get a hands-on perspective.

Keep in mind that often it is not until we are a part of the work and ministry of the church that we understand the reason things are done and certain decisions are made.

Above all remember these words of God through the prophet Jeremiah:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." --Jeremiah 29:11-13

Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister