Focus: Considering the needs of others
Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Through most of the recovery process from depression and addiction, our minds are focused foremost on our own needs. Without guidance, our conversation might be anything but beneficial to others. Most of our time is spent thinking of ourselves and our pitiful circumstances. It’s called, ‘Survival Mode’.
It’s a natural tendency for people to think of themselves first when they are in crisis. When you reach the point where you are finally getting through a day without being totally preoccupied with suicide or other hopeless thoughts, you might still be heavily self-concerned.
There comes a point in time, when because of your own spiritual awakening and the help you may have found in the Word of God and through possibly following a twelve step program—that you should start to think of helping others in their recovery efforts.
Everything inside of you might think you should not consider pursuing such a thing at this point in time, but actually, it’s one of the best things you could do, if you have followed the other eleven principles. In fact, the longer you are allowed to continue dwelling on your own weaknesses, the harder it will be to build new strength.
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God is with you in your recovery and He has a desire to use you to help others who have suffered in the same areas you have battled. You may not have any access to people who need your help at this point in time, but if you will tell the Lord you’re willing, He will open doors for you to be a blessing.
If there is absolutely nobody you can encourage who has had the same problem you’ve had—then look for someone else who is struggling in another way. It might be someone who is in your neighborhood, or half way around the world. Whatever the case, there are millions of people who are in need.
If you will be bold enough to ask your heavenly Father to give you the opportunity, He will.
There are some basic things you need to know and remember when you begin to offer your help. The first and most important qualification required is that you learn to be a good listener. When you encounter someone who you know the Lord has allowed you to meet for the purpose of offering encouragement—do your best to be more interested in hearing what is on their mind—than you are interested in telling them what’s on yours.
Sometimes people think they have learned so much in their own recovery process, that they want to go out and tell other people how to recover. It’s common to have some level of passion to help others, when you feel like recovery is working for you—but it’s so important not to wear out the person who is in the early stages—by spending too much time talking about yourself, your experience and making recommendations.
If you think about what you needed most at the beginning of your own journey—it was to know that someone understood—but also was interested in you and what you had to say.
Some people aren’t ready to talk much at the beginning. There might be long silences. But experiencing awkward silence doesn’t mean you should try to fill the silence with your own voice, out of awkwardness. Sometimes, silence is okay. You can bond with a person in silence as much as you can in conversation, if you try. If you’re truly interested in someone else’s needs—they will feel it—even if you say nothing.
The key to making the best progress in the process of helping someone else in their recovery, is asking thoughtful questions and then listening carefully to their answers. If you are a good listener and have a true interest in the other person’s needs, you will be thinking of what question you could ask them next, rather than what experience you could share next.
Always keep in mind what James 1:19 says. “…Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak.”
Declaration: I will find new strength by considering the needs of others above my own. Finding ways to be available to people who need help in their recovery journey will help me continue to make progress, also.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.