Today’s thoughts will be relevant to anyone who helps others – so I guess that means everyone. Whether you’re a mom, a teacher, a minister, or just a citizen, your hands and words and time are hopefully helping someone. I want to share something profound that I’ve been learning over the past few years of full-time ministry.
You are not responsible for people.
For those of us who are “fixers,” this is a hard statement to swallow. In fact, you may automatically want to reject it altogether. But hear me out. The Bible teaches that we are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), help the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14), love one another (1 Corinthians 13), and consider others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). But the Bible does not teach that we are responsible for change in other people’s lives. In fact, quite the contrary – the Bible teaches that only God can create change (John 16:8, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
I have struggled with this because the Lord has planted compassion and a strong sense of justice in my heart. When those two things combine, I feel an overwhelming urge to pick someone up and move them (spiritually speaking, of course). Get them from point A to point B. And I want to do whatever possible to make that happen. I have resorted to all sorts of tactics that really don’t exemplify the gospel at all in order to change a person.
But if 2 Corinthians 5:14 is true and the love of Christ is what controls and compels us, maybe it’s not the most loving thing to pick people up and move them from point A to point B. Maybe it’s not about whether I’m successful in my endeavors to help people change. Because maybe my desire to see someone change is really about me. Maybe I want to feel good about my ministry. Or maybe I’m afraid to feel like a failure in people’s lives. So I’m desperate to see them change.
Here’s a good indication of whether my desire for people’s change is motivated by the love of Christ or the love of my reputation: how much am I praying?
We must remember that, because only God creates change, He’s the one we must trust with the change. The only thing I’m responsible for in a person’s life is the Word of God. Am I speaking it in love? Am I following His commands to love others unselfishly, seeking their good for the sake of His glory? Do I feel responsible for their change? And if I do, why?
I’m praying that the “fixer” will die with the rest of my flesh. She’s no good to the Kingdom anyway.