The longer I get to serve as a leader and pastor in the church, the more I interact with people who are truly struggling. When I began at New Story 13 years ago, it was 5 years before I interacted with anyone who shared with me their feelings and thoughts toward suicide. Even though I had grown up in a home where we attended AA meetings several nights a week – it was rare that I interacted with anyone battling alcohol addictions and actually talking about it. However over the past 8 years I have been privileged to see more and more people open up about their struggles. It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility.
It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility!
Whenever someone opens up to you – you are responsible, but probably not in the way you think. You aren’t responsible to fix them! I always feel responsible to fix them but that is a lie – a lie that implies that I am bigger and better than I actually am. No, the responsibility that we have is different – we have a responsibility to respond well. And you know what, most of us aren’t very good at that. We end up criticizing people who just need encouragement. We correct people who need comfort. Maybe you tell people how to fix what they already know how to fix. Sometimes we show people how disappointed we are – when all they need is a hug.
You aren’t responsible to fix them!
This is the struggle that has been looming on my mind as more and more people share with me their struggles with addiction, anxiety, fear, worry, suicide and more. How should I respond and show support? Because, isn’t that what we really want to do is support people? To provide a lift up when they are broken up?
One passage that I think we could learn from when it comes to support is 1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
I love the distinctions in this verse – warn those who are idle and disruptive. Encourage those who are disheartened…brokenhearted…or just plain broken. Help the weak – whether that weakness is physical, emotional, spiritual or mental – help! Finally, be patient with everyone. I need to be patient with the growth of others. I need to be patient with the life change. I need to be patient in the middle of the struggle, because again…I’m not responsible to fix them. I’m responsible for how I respond! How about you?