One of the most useful tips I have ever acquired in how to be a great encourager is this; Help the Helper.
Honestly, I do not even remember where I gained this golden nugget of wisdom along the way. I just know that it has stuck with me and proven true time and time again.
Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Help the helper is a good way to live out this verse.
Have you ever realized what a gift, what an encouragement, it can be to do for another person what they are doing for others? This is the basic premise behind the philosophy of helping the helper.
Who around you is always helping people out? How can you in turn be a help to them?
Think about the mechanic who spends all day working on cars for people? Day in and day out diagnosing & identifying problems, looking up codes & pulling parts, taking the dirty, worn out & broken pieces off, then replace & restoring with new components. How can we help the mechanic?
Well, the quick answer would be to work on the mechanic’s car for him. If you are anything like me in way of mechanical skills, the result could be disastrous, expensive, frustrating and NOT helpful.
However, there are still plenty of options to help this helper. Cleaning his car out for him, giving him a full vacuum, wash and wax is one option. Buy him a gift certificate for an oil change. A gift card to the local parts store may also be nice. Something that gives him a break from doing at home what he does all day at work.
Here are some other ideas to help the helpers in your life.
- For the chefs and cooks out there, make them a homemade meal. Invite them over or deliver something to them.
- Write a card to the person who sent you a card that you hang on to and read repeatedly.
- Help the teachers in your life by offering to make copies or correct papers or help clean & organize their classrooms.
- Offer to pray for the Pastors and Ministry Leaders in your life. Visit them at their offices, give them a call on the phone, email them a prayer, or write it out like a letter and mail it to them.
- For the Mom you know who spends all day running errands and chauffeuring her family around, pick her up and drive her some where she can just take a break; out for an ice cream cone or a cup of coffee. Maybe run an errand or two for her.
- Prepare some healthy snacks for the busy professional in your life. Buy some fruit, clean it, cut it and portion it out into plastic Gladware containers. Deliver it to their office so they have something to eat at work besides prepackaged convenience foods. There are lots of office refrigerators out there with room for a bit of fruit.
Those are just a few ideas. It does not matter what field or industry or vocation the helper is in. The key of HOW to help the helper is Stop, Look and Listen. You may remember that saying from the childhood lesson about crossing the street. The same applies to encouragement and to being a help.
Stop: This is often the hardest part. Our world and responsibilities move at breakneck speeds. Messages are coming at us through so many mediums, expectations always seem to intensify, and we have a natural desire to be self focused. We need to push the pause button on all of this momentarily to help the helper.
It often is only a small commitment of time needed to stop, look and listen. Often it can be done during the small, repetitive tasks of our day that we perform out of ritual. During the drive of the daily commute, a trip to the bathroom, sipping that cup of coffee and during a shower are all great times to mentally stop to consider how to help the helpers in your life.
Look: When crossing the street we look for on-coming traffic. We do this as a matter of protection, right? What if we apply that same principal as we are looking to encourage others. What can we do to protect and care for this person? What is on-coming in their lives? What milestones, or deadlines, or events are approaching? What responsibilities are about to pass from “I should do that” to “I should have done that”?
Many vocations have seasons to them, some are even impacted by the season of the year. The snow plow driver, I bet they would appreciate someone clearing their driveway and walk for them while they clear the town of snow. Teachers do a ton of work preparing for a new school year. Accountants brave the storms of tax season. Retailers battle the holiday bulge and the invasion of inventory counts.
Take a moment to glance around at what others in their line of work are doing, it may give you some clues. I just want to make a point here, that work does not have to be a “job” that someone is employed to do for pay. There is plenty of work done by people not on payrolls. Hosts of volunteers in so many organizations and members of families who work tirelessly for the benefit of the whole. All are helpers who need helping.
Listen: If you have identified a person in your life you would like to help, tune your ears to the words they say. Many times the answer to how to help them lies right behind these phrases “I could really use…”, “If I only had…”, “You know what would be good right now…” and “I really need to…” Where there is a sigh chances are there is a signal, just like the sound of on-coming traffic.
Think about this example. Imagine two professionals talking (Sigh) “I really need to get around to filing this stack of paperwork, but I never find time to get to it so it just sits on my desk.” Did you hear the sigh and the signal? Taking the time to help them file that stack of paperwork may just be the thing they need OR finding a task you can do that would afford the person time to do the filing themselves.
So many times the ways to help the helper are not hidden in riddles or puzzles, but instead lie right in front of us sitting in the open fields of the obvious. We need to take the time to Stop, Look and Listen. Just like cars coming down the street we are waiting to cross, opportunity will present itself.
For the Helpers: My dear readers, if you read through my words today and your heart aches because you are a tired, weary helper, please know that my prayers are with you. It is okay if you read today’s post and wished someone would be there to help you. I understand that ache. Your life is so precious and touches more lives than you could imagine.
We often express our deepest gratitude in life sharing the stories of how we were helped with everyone except the one who helped us. We will tell colleagues and friends and family members about that teacher or coach or boss or volunteer who helped us, but we often neglect to honor that teacher or coach or boss or volunteer ourselves.
Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) says spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It seems to me one of the best way to spur one another on is to help the helpers. So who is a helper in your life that you can help today?
You are the incredible and the amazing Helper of us all. First and foremost may we recognize all of the good, the aid, the support, the relief, and the benefits that You bestow upon us. You have give us the time, talents and treasures that afford us the opportunity to spur on another on towards love and good deeds.
I pray for all of the helpers out there. For those weary & worn thin, for those who are doubting their value & their worth, for those who feel like no one is stopping for them, looking out for them or listening to them, Lord please send helpers to them. May their efforts be acknowledged, rewarded and supported in a way that helps them to continue to persevere through whatever circumstances they are in the midst of.
Lord, help us all to stop, look and listen for opportunities to help the helpers. In the always helpful name of Jesus, amen.