To Help Someone. What Does It Really Mean?

We went to a birthday party this afternoon.  It was time for the birthday boy to open his presents.  I observed my youngest bonus child go up to the birthday boy, put his hand on his shoulder, and usher him in the direction of his stack of gifts.  I asked him what he was doing to which he responded, “I’m going to help him.”  My initial response to myself was, no, you are not going to help him.  You want to help open his gifts.  Your intention is purely selfish.

We had just come off of baby girl’s birthday party where we too had unwanted “helpers”.  I was dumbfounded at how the parents didn’t rein their children in from trying to open someone else’s gifts.  I was so confused because I am sure, had it had been their child’s party, they would have been upset at a guest horning in on their child’s moment and would have had something to say about it too.  I vowed right then and there that, one, it would NEVER happen again, and two, none of my children would EVER be an unwanted “helper”.

To see my son jump at the chance to “help” his cousin opened my eyes to the real problem. Do people really know what it is to help someone?

My son is not alone in is desire to “help”.  I have seen adults want to “help” so bad that they got angry when their “help” wasn’t needed. The type of help I am referring to is the kind of “help” people want to give for the wrong motives.  Granted, no one knows the motives of another person because no human can read the inner man of another.  However, you can tell a lot about another person based on how they carry themselves and what they say from their mouth.

I wanted to “help” a girlfriend of mine before.  I wanted to be involved in every aspect of her upcoming moment.  I wanted to insert myself into the planning, discussions, errands, and decision-making.  I was willing to do anything but I didn’t really want to help her.  Yes, I did truly want to do anything that was needed to be done but I only wanted to do those things to satisfy something in me.  I wanted to be seen as important.  I wanted to be seen as an important part in her life.  I didn’t want to seem important for her sake but for all of the other friends and family involved.  I was using a time in her life to esteem myself in the eyes of others.

Thanks be to God it didn’t go as I planned.  My attempts to worm my way into her inner circles was cut off at the onset.  I remember I showed up to the house ready to be the chauffeur to run the necessary errands and was politely told I wasn’t needed.  I was hurt but not because my friend seemingly rejected me.  I was hurt because my selfish needs were not going to be met the way I planned.  In fact, they weren’t met at all.  As I was wallowing in self-pity, I was called upon to take a special part in her day.  When the day came, I blew it.  I overstepped my boundaries.  I felt like such a heel.  I apologized over and over again.  I got the standard ‘it’s okay’ response but we both knew it wasn’t.  It took a long time for that to heal.  That day taught me a HUGE lesson about “helping” people.

What helping is not – assisting someone who may be in need to fullfill your own selfish desires.

Real help does not seek its own; is not puffed up.  (Sounds a lot like the definition of love doesn’t it? (1 Cor. 13)  Real help is a willingness to submit yourself to do the bidding of someone else regardless of the task or of the possibility of seeking glory (wanted attention) for yourself.  If your girlfriend is having a party and you ask if she needs you to come over early to help her get ready, if you are really there to help her you should come in ready to clean the toilets if she asks you.  It won’t matter if you don’t get a “glamorous” job that brings attention to you once the party starts.  You aren’t there for yourself.  You are there for her.

There are other things to consider when helping someone like, when the best way to help someone is by not helping.  In those cases, the folks who want your help really just want you to come save the day for them so they can continue to do what they want.  You will help them today and help them the next time because they will not have changed in between.

However, specifically here in this post, I am talking about the motives of the person offering to help someone else.

We tried to teach our son a lesson in helping someone today.  He was asked by a family member to help with the gifts so he wasn’t in the wrong for being over there with the presents. My husband and I guided him on how to help.  We told him his job was to sit down and hand the birthday boy one unopened present at a time.  If the birthday boy needed help opening a gift, he was to hold the gift steady while the birthday boy took off the wrapping paper.  We told him what he was not to do as well.  He was not to “help” by assisting the birthday boy in unwrapping his gifts.  He was not to “help” him by standing next to the birthday boy and looking into the gift bag at the same time he was to see what he got.  He was not to “help” by pull anything out of the gift bags either.

I wonder how many people act like I acted or how my son acted this afternoon when they offer to help someone? I wonder if they realize “help” is not the same as help?  I wonder if they allow themselves to really think on why their feelings are hurt when their “help” is rejected?  Maybe if they did that, they would see that the problem is their motives (the reward they seek for themselves on their mission to “help”).  Change your motives, change your outcome.

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