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 getting up to leave, the instructor saw a younger man raise his hand in the back. “Yes sir?” she asked. “I was wondering if it’s alright if she carries my golf clubs while we are walking?”
After many years in ministry, I have come to see that people’s motives and character have a way of quickly finding the surface. Selfishness, jealousy, laziness, integrity and honor are things most leaders can pick up on during the briefest of conversations. And like the young, soon-to-be father, our own 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 everyday. 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 all 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 recognized those traits. Moreover, maybe you will see some in your own life. In either case, let’s take a look at seven people that are tough to help.
1. It’s hard to help people who won’t get away from the wrong people. Changing is hard, but trying to change big things in your life while staying plugged into the wrong crowd is almost impossible. 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 effected 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 without drinking, I didn’t fit in anymore.” He had several relapses trying to hang out there while trying to remain 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 life then there is a very small chance they are going to 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, an inspiration on how to navigate a certain issue or problem. 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 dismiss them as having “got lucky”. When a man cannot look up to anyone at all, 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 the trap they are in.
3. It’s hard to help a person who only wants the resources and not the wisdom. There are reasons people get into messes in their life. And although there are times that they had no fault in it; more times than not, they could have avoided it. When people need my help, I always like to see if along with my resources, they want some instruction and wisdom on how to live in a way that helps plan for these moments. When people also want 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 is often going to 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 do hit our lives, we try to spin the story so it really wasn’t our failure at all. 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 in order to give us a more clear 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. For people like this, we can only watch and wait until God interrupts their world and brings them crashing to their knees.
5. It’s hard to help someone who blames you for his or her 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 are blaming 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, many times parents try to step it up more and fix things. All this does is give the child more things to rant about. The truth is, 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 are able to hit life back. If someone blames 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 own shoulders then 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. For the first week, he said, he felt sorry for himself 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 the responsible 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 simply because they refuse to grow. In training leaders, you get a front row view to the cause and effect of growth. 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 a lot of time and frustration.