We live in a world filled with broken and hurting people, at times including ourselves. What so many desperate people need is the very thing God equips the normal Christian with- His love.
Sometimes it is just too easy to make a quick and surface assessment of a person and his situation and then spout off an authoritarian point of view. And if you say it with confidence, as if you know what you are talking about, then you can come across as the expert who needs to be heard. Some people seem to need it. They are hanging on by a thread, they know what they are currently doing is not working, and they just need something simple and sensible to latch onto. The problem comes when the advice giver does not know what he is talking about or does not really care. He likes to sound important, or likes the power of being able to manipulate another person. So he throws out a scripture, some pop-psychology, feigns to care- and so thinks he has solved this person’s problems in 15 minutes. Likely we all know people like this. They masquerade as friends, ministers, as people who care. Let’s be very careful. To truly care is to love the person who is hurting. You do not manipulate someone who is hurting, and you know that most true answers to deep-seated personal problems call for lifestyle change, which require time and effort. A friend truly listens, not just biding his time to spout off another shallow truism. A friend never quits on you, and never requires that you follow his advice with perfection. A friend sees through your pretenses and tolerates your confusion, and hangs in there with you. And when you and I are hurting, that’s what we truly need.
I know the Bible. I know a good bit about human nature, that all are sinners and all need redemption. And I know that we all mess up and need help. But I am not an expert on anything- just a fellow struggler trying to love and help others in the name of Jesus. If you need a professional then I can point you toward some. They may or may not be able to help you. A big part of counseling is simply listening to the other person, and caring. Chances are you know what your problem is, you know what got you into trouble. And if you will be really honest with yourself, you know the solution. So good counseling is helping you to recognize these matters. It takes time with somebody who will listen. And I try to do that. I’m honored to do so as your pastor. You are encouraged to give me a call, maybe sit down with me at the office. Let’s talk and pray together.
The fact is that most people will never go to a counselor or sit down with a pastor. But they likely know someone like yourself. The good news is that you do not have to be a professional with all the answers to help someone with his problems. Most likely, it would be refreshing for you to admit upfront that you do not have all the answers, but you care and you would like to listen. Keep it confidential, of course. Truly listen, be honest, and pray earnestly for this person. I’ve found that time and love have amazing curative powers!