Updated: Apr 13
The Lamaze class was just ending when the teacher made a few final suggestions. "Now, ladies, let's not forget to exercise right up to the end," she said. "Walking is especially good for you because it strengthens pelvic muscles and will help to make the delivery much easier." She went on to say, "And remember husbands, that we are in this together with our wives, so it would be beneficial if you walked with them." As everyone was leaving, the instructor saw a younger man raise his hand in the back. "Yes, sir?" she asked. "I wondered if it's alright if she carries my golf clubs while we are walking?"
After many years in ministry, I have seen that people's motives and character quickly find the surface. Most leaders can pick up on self-awareness, jealousy, laziness, integrity, and honor during the briefest of conversations. And like the young, soon-to-be father, our ulterior motives can come out of us so fast that we rarely catch it until it's too late.
One of my greatest joys is seeing men and women receive wisdom and instruction and use it to bring about real change. We live in a world that expounds the idea that we cannot be different. And it is that mindset that even keeps us trapped in a body that we do not like. But change can and does happen in some people every day. On the other side of that coin is one of my biggest frustrations. It is hard to watch some people who have all the talent, skill, and potential waste it because they would not grow, develop and change. I have seen it so many times it makes me sick. In fact, early on, when mentoring or teaching someone, I can recognize issues that make it almost impossible to help them until they own that part of their character. Perhaps in trying to help others, you too have identified those traits. Maybe you have seen seen some in your own life. Let's look at seven people who are hard to help in either case.
1. It's hard to help people who won't separate from the wrong people.
Changing can be challenging, but trying to change big things in your life while staying plugged into the wrong crowd never works. I talked to a recovering alcoholic once about his journey out of drinking. I have never struggled with alcohol, so I was curious about how he had made a change that had lasted over 20 years. He told me that it was hard at first because his friends and family were the patrons of a local bar. He said, "I was fine with not drinking, but I didn't realize that I didn't fit in anymore without drinking." He had several relapses trying to hang out there while remaining sober. The change happened when he realized that he had to find a whole new community of friends. He made some at AA, a gym, and a church he started to attend. After that, his journey to recovery was much easier. If people cannot have the courage to walk away from the friends who are "kindly" hijacking their lives, then there is a tiny chance they will make different decisions.
2. It's hard to help people who can't respect proven achievers.
In my experience, God uses us all as road maps for others. For some, we serve as a warning. For others, inspiration on how to navigate specific issues and problems. Some people become so irked with their lot in life that they build walls against other people's successes. They can hear a story of someone who overcame the exact same obstacle they have and then dismisses them as having "got lucky." When a man cannot look up to anyone, it is an issue of pride. I used to believe that only the successful and wealthy struggle with pride. I have since learned that pride is not a respecter of gender, status, or nationality. Pride becomes the warden, never allowing them to follow another out of their trap.
3. It's hard to help a person who only wants your resources and not your wisdom.
There are reasons people get into messes in their life. And although there are times that they had no fault in it, they could have avoided it more often than not. So, when people ask for my help, I always like to see if, along with my resources, they would like some instruction and wisdom. It is my great joy to help; however, when I sense that they just need me for what is in my pocketbook, I realize that my help will only serve as a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. A person who refuses to seek wisdom before resources often live the life of a victim their entire life.
4. It's hard to help people who have never been broken.
When we are young, we see failures as our worst enemies. We avoid them at all costs, and when they hit our lives, we try to spin the story, so it really wasn't our failure. However, as we get older, many of us start to see failures in our life as defining moments and some of the greatest times of learning. We may never love them, but we do see them more as a needed slap in the face to give us a clearer vision. A person who cannot own a failure or has ever felt the sting of being broken is often too detached from reality to understand a change on their part is needed. We can only watch and wait for people like this until God interrupts their world and brings them crashing to their knees.
5. It's hard to help someone who blames you for their issues.
I have seen this a lot with children. Kids leave home, and then life hits them in the nose. The next thing you know, they blame the parents for not hugging them enough or hugging them too much. Maybe their bedtime was too early, or perhaps you did not fill the encouragement quota. I have watched parents feel like trolls because a twenty-something know-it-all is playing psychologist in everyone's life. As this unfolds, parents often try to step it up more and fix things. All this does is give the child more things to rant about. Until they stop blaming the parent, the parent cannot really help. Life is not a fair place. In fact, it can be downright hurtful. No one leaves home 100% ready for what is coming. But when people stop blaming others and choose to resist bitterness, they can position themselves for receiving help. If someone blames or accuses me for their lot in life, I am the last person who will fix them. I cannot care more about your life than you do.
6. It's hard to help a "Know-It-All."
Not much to say here. We all have had people who needed our help, but in the end, they wanted to teach us how to help them out of their mess because they are the authority on it. It makes NO SENSE AT ALL! When they show up in my life, I simply smile and understand I am not needed. They have it all covered…or at least they think they do.
7. It's hard to help people who don't understand responsibility.
The word responsibility means "able to respond." When a man or woman cannot take the burden on their shoulders, helping them becomes an exercise in futility. Odds are, they will always get bogged down in the mud of fault. Not everything we go through is our fault, but it is still our responsibility. I know a man who got a very rare sickness. He did nothing to bring it on himself, and doctors do not know what caused it. He said he felt sorry for himself for the first week and pouted while being hospitalized. Finally, his doctor told him that a bad attitude would kill him faster if he didn't take personal responsibility for fighting this illness. Her words were enough to snap him out of it. Within a week, he had made enormous improvements. Only those who take responsibility will change things that must be changed.
I have spent my life encouraging others and helping people reach their dreams. I have also spent countless hours scratching my head and wondering why some won't become all they could be. In training leaders, you get a front-row view of growth's cause and effect. It never gets old. You will also encounter moments when only God can intervene and put one's life in order. If you can recognize it early, it can save you time and frustration.