Same question. God has called us to walk beside people and “pour life-resources into them.” How do we know what to pour?
In reference to another question, Andy Stanley in one of his podcasts suggests asking, “How can I help?” He is not limiting the offer to offering to carry the other end of the ladder. “Given my resources and who I am, how can I help you?”
It is another way of blessing someone. Using Dr. Henry Cloud’s definition of blessing, it is the offer of affirmation, touch, words, and the promise to provide resources that I have that will benefit you. Seldom is it advice—unless asked for.
Same issue. Many of those we walk beside will not know how to answer “How can I help?”
Here’s where I am on this. I think I’m describing being someone’s life-coach—perhaps a spiritual director. We may be offering to be part of a team. I had a list of twelve people for whom I was praying. Some of the twelve were in life-death situations. Some were in “on the way to prison” situations. Others—“I’m in prison.” Not all were that dramatic. Most were in “I’m stuck—I don’t want this to be my life, anymore.”
First, everyone has the right to choose our own priest or coach. I learned some didn’t choose me. They didn’t have a better option, but they chose to say, “I don’t know” when I asked how I could help. It was their kind way of saying—“Go away. I’m not that into what you’re offering.” Others may have doubted I had anything of value to offer. Obviously, I think they are wrong, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Perceived credibility and value is primary.
If the person is not shopping, even discounts won’t help. Some needed more specialized help than I can offer.
One or two of those folks said, “I’ll get back to you.” They weren’t ready to be healed. They weren’t ready to step away from their addiction. But they didn’t want me to go too far in the event they decided it was time. Some folks cannot imagine living without what is an addiction in my estimation, but to them it is an absolutely needed coping mechanism. For the moment, it is their link to oxygen.
More than one physician has said to me after a seminar, “People want from me what I can’t give them. They want a pill that will fix them. They want something done to them or put into them.”
“Coming alongside,” demands a tribe, open interaction, discernment, Words of wisdom and knowledge. We pour encouragement, edification, equipping, empowering. My experience is that we can never go wrong going heavy on the encouragement. But without an open relationship “encouraging” words are thin platitudes—like pumping diesel into a gas-driven engine.
How would you answer, “How can I help?” Who could ask that who would benefit you most?
D. Dean Benton
Benton Quest House