Monday, October 6, 2014

Six Ways to (NOT) Help a Friend

When your friend is dealing with a difficult situation, do you call them? I find myself thinking, “What if they’re tired of talking about it or embarrassed by the attention?” I wonder if delivering a meal is going overboard or if I should just have pizza delivered and stay out of their hair.

While some are more socially skilled than the rest of us, here are a few things I know NOT to do:
  1. Give them advice. The mental roar of annoyance (Who asked you anyway?!) will drown out every word so you never have to worry about whether the advice you give is any good.
  2. Be their conscience. If you think they aren’t listening to God’s voice, step right in and tell them what you think God wants them to know. This is your opportunity to stunt their spiritual growth since they likely no longer want to hear from God.
  3. Tell them about your similar (or different!) problem. This demonstrates your ability to focus on yourself and ignore their pain. Watch for the eye roll here. You will know you’ve been consistent in your approach if you get the official eye roll.
  4. If their problem is you, tell them you are sorry and be sure to explain what they did to cause your behavior. This demonstrates your skill in avoiding responsibility and is a surefire way to end most relationships —which means you will never have to apologize again!
  5. Discuss their problem with someone else. This almost always gets back to them and people love to be famous. I promise you will never be burdened with their secrets again!
  6. Do nothing. This builds confidence in your commitment to them. You will never have to worry about missing their phone call again.

Every situation is unique, but here are a few suggestions you will find more friend-worthy:
  1. Listen. The best gift is someone you can safely vent with. Someone who will listen without judging. I want a friend who will eventually call me up to God’s perspective, but first I may need a willing ear.
  2. If I am upset with you, I just need to hear, “I’m sorry.” Anything else subtracts from the power of those words.
  3. Do Something. Call me. Invite me to lunch. Bring me a Latte. When you give the gift of time, it means everything.
  4. Say Something. Anything. Even if it is lame, it is better than pretending nothing is wrong.
  5. Encourage me. Give me ideas. Offer to brainstorm with me. Remind me, this too shall pass.
  6. Pray for me. I find nothing compares to the comfort of being prayed for. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 MSG) No pressure here – remember Jesus is the only perfect one.

Difficult days come to each of us. One of the ways He delivers help is through our friends and loved ones.

We can be tempted to grow weary and withdraw rather than pursue the one who is struggling. We can ask God to help us be willing to offer the sacrifice of time and energy when we have a friend in need.

God doesn’t promise an easy life. He does promise to be with us every step of the way (Deut 31:8).


What have you found to be the most helpful? What have your friends done that helped you through a tough time? How have you been able to encourage others?

Image courtesy of tiverylucky & bplanet at

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