Do you have a friend who could use your help? Are there some people in your sphere of influence who are not looking for your help, but you long to speak into their lives?
Listen to the podcast
You may want to read:
- How to Help a Person Get Right With God
- A Few Thoughts about an Unchangeable Situation
- How to Motivate a Person to Change
The first and most important thing to remember for this type of person is to keep on loving them. Your affection for the individual must always be riding in the background of your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions.
If you don’t have a genuine concern for the person, whatever your words or actions may be, you will stain them by your frustration, impatience, or annoyance. Sometimes because of our concern for the wayward soul, we can “care in the wrong ways” as our love for them turns into frustration and impatience.
It is imperative that you understand what is happening in your heart as you think about the unchanging person. There are at least two things going on, and both of them have something to do with fear.
- You’re afraid of how that person may end up in the future.
- You’re fearful of how they may react to your help.
Even if they won’t let you help them now, you can always pray for them. It will be your “praying without ceasing” that will buoy your love for him (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And out of your humility, the Lord will give you the courage and insight to know what to do (James 4:6).
Prayer Caveat: Because we can be subjective in our prayers for others, it will be wise to let any “action steps” that may come from your prayer time sit in your mental incubator for a while before you act on them. Having a healthy self-suspicion, even about your prayer life, will serve you well.
At times we can lace our prayers with what we want, which ends up damaging the relationship. How many times have you “felt” like something was from the Lord but you acted on it too quickly? After a backward glance at your prayer life, you see how your emotions were stronger than your “assumed illuminations” from the Spirit.
This kind of impulsiveness is the “ready, fire, aim method” for responding to annoying people. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. Five minutes on Facebook is all you need to see this acted out in the “public square.” Prayer works, but prayer incubation is wise, humble, and sanctifying.
Watching People Struggle
Watching someone self-destruct is not unique to you. We all have “that person” in our lives, which is why loving them well is critical. He needs a friend asking the Lord for opportunities to be Jesus to him. (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:24-25).
Rarely will you have these redemptive moments according to your timetable. It takes discernment to know when to withhold and when to insert yourself into a person’s life.
What Can You Do?
- Pray for the person (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Discern if you’re mapping your preferences over that person: You want them to do what you want to do. Perhaps they are right, and you are wrong (1 Corinthians 8:13).
- Always try to ask questions instead of making statements about what you’re observing. Be comfortable with your inability to be omniscient (Proverbs 12:15).
- Ask God to show you the “unique moments” where you can love them practically (John 16:13).
- Guard your heart by knowing the difference between over-caring and under caring. Find the sweet spot (Proverbs 4:23).
- Make sure your “critical observations” are nowhere near the number of times you express your affection for them (Ephesians 4:29).
- Determine if what you are observing is about their salvation or their sanctification (John 3:7). Their salvation is the most critical while the other things deal with the problems in the here and now (Romans 4:14).
- Don’t bug them about how they need to change (Romans 2:4).
- Encourage them, but not so much that it comes across as you’re “working” them. It must be pneumatic (Spirit-led) and from your heart (Romans 12:18).
- Talk privately to your closest friend about these things. Having a human helper to come alongside you to govern your thoughts is one of the beauties, privileges, and satisfying safety nets for the Christian (Proverbs 17:17).
Also published on Medium.