Here’s a simple 2-question test. One, do you know anyone who has a problem? Two, would you like to help, but you aren’t sure how to get started? If you answered “yes” to either question, this practical article is for you. What follows are 12 ways to help almost anyone with almost any kind of problem.
Listen, Listen, Listen
The ultimate caregiving skill is focused listening. Most people who have a problem need someone to talk to. James 1:19 in the Bible says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.” That’s great advice for helping others.
Guard the Confidence People Place in You
People you help often tell you things that are extremely personal or confidential. Resist the temptation to blab to others what you have been told. The confidence people place in you is a sacred trust.
Give Advice Cautiously
Here’s why. You could become responsible for the advice given. Your better approach is to assist your friend in finding options for solving his or her problem, then allowing that person to make his or her own decisions.
Don’t Condemn People
Back off from saying, “I can’t believe you did something that stupid!” or “What were you thinking?” Hurting people feel badly enough. So, don’t add to a friend’s heavy load through critical judgment.
Be Alert to Warning Signals
“Warning signals” are signs of behavior that just are not typical in the person you are seeking to help. For example, your friend has always been jovial, positive, and upbeat. But lately you have noticed indications that your friend is greatly discouraged. That’s a warning signal that something is going on.
Be Careful Where You Help People
Be alert not to advise/assist people of the opposite sex alone, or in a questionable environment. Enough said.
Point People to Hope
I find that people who are overwhelmed by their problems tend to feel hopeless. They really think they have no way out. Not true! When Jesus is in your life you never are without hope. He can break down barriers, solve problems, and provide solutions—every time.
Don’t Try to Defend God
Hurting people often question God, like, “Why has God allowed this to happen to me?” “Doesn’t God know we already have enough problems?” You might feel threatened by heavy theological questions. So, simply remind folks of God’s love and care, but don’t attempt to defend Him. He is capable of defending Himself.
Avoid Saying, “I Know How You Feel”
No you don’t! Better to say, “I know you are hurting” or “I am so sorry.”
Pray for the Person You Are Helping
God works in amazing ways in response to our prayers. Depend on Him to guide, strengthen, uplift, help, and motivate the person you are helping.
Refer When Necessary
You might find yourself in a situation that is over your head. It’s time to refer your friend to someone who has more knowledge about the problem than you.
Help Yourself Stay Strong
If you constantly find yourself helping others, but you do nothing to refuel and replenish yourself, you will burn out. Read your Bible for personal guidance and strength. Accept your limitations. Find a trusted friend you can talk with. Do something positive and uplifting for yourself.
Practice these 12 principles and you will be able to offer hope to almost anyone with almost any kind of problem.