I love helping people. It doesn’t matter who they are, sometimes it doesn’t even matter if they need it. I’ve spent a great deal of my life in a self placed “rescuing” or “helping” role. But, I must confess, it hasn’t always been for HIM, it’s been for me. When I realized this a few years ago, I began to take note of how often I feel the urge to “help others” in HIS name or…. when really it is just an attempt to “fill a hole in my soul” that I seem to have (but still don’t completely understand). At this point, I faced the realization that if it is for HIM, it doesn’t always look the same way as when it’s for myself, or for those who are in need.
In the study of Positive Psychology, it is believed that helping or nurturing others is a possible pre-determining factor to overall wellness (Compton 2005). When I read this a few years ago, I became so excited! Even research backed up that when I helped fellow man, it would increase my well being. But sometimes, it didn’t seem to work that easily. Sometimes, I gave someone my all to be left hurt, confused, and feeling taken advantage of.
Recently, I have been taking note during the times that I feel the sting of emotional pain that comes with feeling taken advantage of. I have began working toward training myself to identify that when I feel that “sting” I’ve not been working for HIM, it’s been about me all along. again. That “sting” of emotional pain is now beginning to be my cue, when I feel it- time to reevaluate my intentions.
When we trust in HIM, we don’t need the immediate gratification that comes with doing good in HIS name. We can be satisfied with the service no matter the outcome of those that we feel we are being called to help. So many times as a Christian I have based the success of my “help” on the immediate outcome of the other person or group. When we put our plans for other people on a timeline, it isn’t for HIM… It’s for me.
The reason I feel that this topic is so important, is that the motives behind our service will often determine whether or not those being served will reflect positively on the work of the Church, or service in Christ’s name. Sadly, when our work is to fulfill our own needs, the results for Christ aren’t what they could be.
Everyday I’m working a little harder to be more Christlike. There have been times throughout my life that I’ve failed miserably in this, and I’ve done it in the name of Christ himself. It takes more faith in God’s plan, to do His work for Him, and not me. I’ve slowly learned that as I can let go of my preconceived ideas of what success looks like, and have faith in Him, I feel more fulfilled as a Christian and am better able to do the work of the Church. I still have a long way to go. How many times as Christians, have we pulled back support due to the fact that we weren’t seeing the results that we had envisioned? A natural struggle of mine is the self gratification of seeing positive and immediate results. Hopefully, in time this will become easier, and years from now I will be able to look back positively on the journey through it.
Compton, W. C. (2005). An introduction to positive psychology. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.