When I worked at Outreach, Inc. I instituted a 3 no-show rule. You see, I would meet with my kids every week at their high school at the same time. Often I would find myself sitting there waiting…and waiting…and waiting. Finally, I wisened up and made the rule that three consecutive no-call, no-shows resulted in my stopping the weekly visit for that kid. As far as possible, I let them know about this rule. It can sound harsh, but our behavior or lack of action reveals our desire. And I would always tell them that I am available for whenever they’re ready, and that I’d love nothing more than to meet with them and help them finish high school and grow as a person.
Here’s the big lesson I learned in this:
The enemy wants us to focus on those who are not serious about making changes and moving forward. On those who are not ready or willing to put forth the effort required for personal growth or any type of accomplishment. Why? Because when your energy goes there, you’re not seeing or helping those who really are ready and could actually use your help to move forward in life. I compare this to the magician’s trick of waving one hand around which commands attention, meanwhile, the other hand, the hidden hand, is performing the trick.
I don’t want to know how many people I’ve missed, because, as seems to be in our nature, my energy wants to go toward and rescue the floundering yet unwilling. Maybe it’s because they complain the loudest. But I’ve learned to only put forth the energy required for someone who genuinely wants it, and keep my eyes open to those who may be around me who are crying out, willing to work toward something, and just need a pathway and encouragement. Well, I should say I’ve gotten better at it, not perfect, but better.
The other thing the enemy wants in this is for you to sink into self-pity and beat yourself up as to why the person you’re trying to help is not changing and getting better. As if it’s your fault. As if anyone’s choice to stay in their crap is your fault. But this is an effective temptation. We’ve all fallen prey to this son-of-a-jackhole technique.
As long as we’re wallowing in self-pity, who are we helping? No one! And who are we focused on? Our self! Our poor, poor little self. “Ohhhh, if only I had…” And as we stay here, we’re no doubt neglecting someone in serious need who is ready for change.
Remember, people are not ready for change until their level of discontent with their situation rises above their perceived effort to make said change. In other words, change is too much work and will not happen until you are dissatisfied enough with where you are to the point of being willing to do whatever it takes to move out of where you are. Then, and only then, will someone take your help and actually do something with it.
The school social workers I worked with had a saying–“I can’t want it more than you do.”
Of course I would also add that we must be in continual listening prayer as to who the Holy Spirit would have us reach out to. There have definitely been times someone was constantly on my heart even though I sensed no willingness on their part to move. Listen to the Voice. Obey the Voice.
And I want to be careful to not communicate that I’m advocating neglecting anyone, rather simply putting our energy where it will be most effective.