I posted yesterday about Simon Sinek’s views on helping others and how his thoughts are deeply rooted in the Christian faith. Click here if you missed it. The overall purpose of the article was to show that as Christians, we should be leading the charge in the world to help others before we help ourselves.
However, I was at my church today and had a thought: “We all most likely agree that we should help others, but how?” As I walked through the church this morning, talked to a few people, and listened to the sermon, I realized that it is not always easy to know how to help. With this in mind, I decided to give a few thoughts on how to begin to help others. This list is not exhaustive by any means; it is simply a starting place to consider.
1. Pray for others…and let them know
All Christians should agree that prayer is vitally important and powerful in our daily lives. Yet, we do not always pray as much as we should, much less let the people in our prayers know that we prayed for them.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does Paul write out his prayers in his letters?” Paul always made it a point to let his reader know, not only that he was praying for them, but exactly what he was praying for.
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…” -Ephesians 1:16-17 (Emphasis mine)
Prayer goes a long way in helping others because we are appealing to Jesus, who longs to lead us to the Father in every way. Letting them know that you prayed for them and what you prayed for them takes it even further because you are personally leading them to the One who leads them to the Father.
2. Engaging in meaningful conversations
I will never forget a day that I pulled off of the road to talk to a man who was homeless. He was right next to a gas station and I figured that I could by him a sandwich or a drink. When I went to offer the man some food, I could hardly understand what he was saying. However, I heard clearly that he had food. He actually offered his food to me! I sat down on the sidewalk, right off of an intersection of I-30, and talked with him for about ten minutes. After I prayed with him and got up to leave, he said that he appreciated me coming and talking to him. He said that it got lonely out there and not many people talk to him.
It amazed me that while this man had many problems in his life, one of the greatest was loneliness. This conversation reminded me that we can give money, food, and shelter to everyone who needs it. None the less, we still can neglect some of their core needs: love and community.
This truth applies to everyone. Just like yourself, every person is walking through the mountains and valleys that life entails. Consequently, everyone needs someone to help them through it. You are seeing people everyday at your church, job, grocery store, school, etc. They all need to know that you love them and more importantly that God loves them. The best way to communicate that is to have a meaningful conversation. Ask them, “How are you doing?”, “How is your mom doing?”, and “How can I pray for you?” Do this in a meaningful way where you are actually interested – not just small talk.
People need help and one of the best ways we can do this is to engage in deep conversations with them. Interestingly enough, this actually provides the information on how you can further help them.
3. Walk through struggles with people
I have always been curious to see how different people would react to the Gospel if we practiced the Gospel on them. And I am not just talking about forgiving others, (while that is a part of the Gospel, it is not the whole Gospel). A critical aspect of the Gospel is that Jesus came to earth as one of us.
“…Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -Philippians 2:5b-7
Since Jesus lived as one of us and was tempted like us, we now have a Savior who walks through life with us.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:15-16
Are you walking through life with people? Whenever a person comes to you with a problem, do you say, “I’m here for you. Whatever you need, day or night, just let me know.” Or do you say, “I’m sorry that’s going on. I’ll pray for you.”, and then never bring it up again? I am not saying that prayer isn’t important (see point 1). I am saying that at some point we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus (1 Cor. 12:27).
Sometimes we need to find someone who is bearing a heavy burden (Gal. 6:2) and walk up to them and say, “I’m in this with you. Until you get through this I’ll meet with you, provide counsel for you, find help for you. I’m in this as long as you are in this.”
Imagine if you said this to a teenager who just found out that she was pregnant? Or to a person with depression? Or to a person struggling with family? Or struggling with a job? What would the Gospel look like to them in that moment? It would look like Jesus is a Savior who will walk through the troubles of this life with them.
There are many ways to help someone. A good place to start is to pray for people and inform them of it, engage in meaningful conversations with them about struggles, and then walk through those struggles with them. By this you are communicating everything that Jesus did for you.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” -1 John 4:10-11 (Emphasis mine)