There's help, and then there's better help. Unfortunately, I tend to jump in an help when maybe I shouldn't. Here's what I've learned about helping. #fmfparty #help #betterhelp #mansplaining #relationships

There’s help, and then there’s better help. Unfortunately, I tend to jump in an help when maybe I shouldn’t. Here’s what I’ve learned about helping.

There's help, and then there's better help. Unfortunately, I tend to jump in an help when maybe I shouldn't. Here's what I've learned about helping. #fmfparty #help #betterhelp #mansplaining #relationships

Lessons from a Chick

“What are you doing?” I asked my little brother. He stood at the side of the egg incubator in our dining room, with one hand over a brown egg.

“I’m helping the baby chickens get out,” he said.

“No!” I almost screamed. “Daddy said if we help them, they might die!”

He jerked his hand back, almost dropping the egg. “Oh. I thought they needed help to get out.”

Secretly, I thought the same thing. After all, it took soooo long for them to emerge. And once they did come out, they looked like wet noodles trying to walk.

I thought it would be better to help them along, but my Dad told me over and over again that my help would really harm them.

Help, or Better Help

Fast-forward almost half a century, and I still have the impulse to help. But the help I want to offer doesn’t always equal better help. I think I know how to do things better, with more efficiency, and less waste. My helpful attitude has done plenty of harm, though.

When we offer unwanted help, we can cripple, offend, or stunt someone else. If we want to give better help, we need to keep a few things in mind.

1. Assess the Situation

Do you feel the impulse to help because of you? Or because of the person who appears to have a struggle? Giving better help means we don’t jump in and help where help might offend.

Ask

Nothing irks me more than someone butting in and helping without asking whether or not I need it. No, not the ‘let me open the door for you’ kind of help, I like that. I don’t appreciate the kind of assistance when someone tries to take over the problem-solving. Their efforts usually make things worse.

Don’t assume that you can offer better help than anyone else or that someone actually wants or needs your help. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with asking before jumping in. But I’m trying to do better.

Avoid Learned Helplessness

Beware the people who act helpless because they would rather have you figure everything out. That’s manipulation. When a student who suffers from learned helplessness comes whining to me, I try to stay pleasant and ask them for their opinion. If they absolutely can’t come up with a solution, I give them options and ask what they think would happen if they tried each option.

Better help doesn’t mean just giving answers. It means allowing others to think things through on their own.

Allow the Holy Spirit to Guide You

I’ve started asking the Holy Spirit to guide me when I feel like jumping in and helping. I don’t have the discernment to assess, ask, and avoid on my own. My personality type is know-it-all-and-fix-everything. I don’t think the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs list that as a personality type, but that’s me.

Maybe you’ve never struggled with helping the way I have. God wants us to help one another, but not at the expense of relationships or causing co-dependency.  If we want to give better help, we need to assess, ask, avoid, and allow. And we can always cheer from the sidelines! Sometimes, that’s all the help someone really needs.

There's help, and then there's better help. Unfortunately, I tend to jump in an help when maybe I shouldn't. Here's what I've learned about helping. #fmfparty #help #betterhelp #mansplaining #relationships
Is it possible that your help could actually cause harm? How to give better help. #fmfparty #help Click To Tweet

10 Comments

  1. “I thought it would be better to help them along, but my Dad told me over and over again that my help would really harm them” – it’s the same with butterflies emerging out of their cocoon, isn’t it? Some of the challenges we face are helping us to develop “muscles” that we’ll need down the line. But I usually have the strong urge to jump in and help. I need to remember this, “When we offer unwanted help, we can cripple, offend, or stunt someone else”. There’s a way to give “better help” – I need to always remember the baby chicks and the butterflies! Great post x
    Wemi Omotosho recently posted…Stretched Thin and ThreadbareMy Profile

  2. Oh my, yes. Our helping can hinder at times – but it can be difficult to know when or how to help. The Spirit is where we turn! Thanks for this timely reminder. (Karen, FMF #4)

  3. I’d really like to help you,
    I really, really would,
    but can you please tell me true,
    would I be doing good,
    or would I just be butting in?
    Should aid-urge be denied
    as exercise of mortal sin,
    the Judas-gift of pride?
    Oh Lord, please give me learning
    and clarity of thought,
    that I might be discerning
    a need for me, or not,
    and if there is, let others see
    that help is from You, through me.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…A World Suddenly Less BrightMy Profile

  4. One of my regretful memories with my m-i-l is when I walked into the kitchen to find her trying to open a box of cereal upside down. The box had been previously opened, and in trying to avoid a mess, I ran over, grabbed the box from her, and turned it right-side-up and opened it for her. I should have cared about her more than the potential mess on the floor. A friend with a mom with dementia told me they really don’t like to create messes, and if she had understood, she would have appreciated my intervention. But I could have done it more kindly.

    I’ve read missionary posts where they say sometimes well-meaning help is harmful. We can unwittingly cause their churches to depend on American aid instead of on God.

    It’s a thorny issue. Sometimes we don’t help enough. Sometimes we help in the wrong way or time. How we need to walk closely to God and seek His guidance.
    Barbara Harper recently posted…Friday’s Fave FiveMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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