I’ve been talking in my last two posts about crashing and burning; first, how it happens. And then, how to recover. Today I want to talk about how to help friends who crash and burn.
How to help friends: Speak the Truth in Love
The first way to help is to speak the truth in love without compromising. The temptation is to feel sorry for people and go soft on them. They give you all kinds of excuses and justification for their behavior and so you basically say…Oh, gee, you are right. I guess God’s word doesn’t apply to you. You really are in a special category. You don’t need to take responsibility like the rest of us do.
No. Don’t do that. You aren’t doing them any favors. Keep speaking the truth. Keep calling them to do the right thing. Don’t nag or be self-righteous. But don’t change your tune either.
How to help friends: Don’t Try to Fix Them
Next, don’t try to save them or fix them. This is easy to do. Some of you are natural caretakers. You want to solve everyone’s problem. If you see people struggling to do the right thing you like to jump in and save the day for them. Don’t do that. Let them take responsibility for their own lives.
I’ve had parents tell me…But Remy, if I don’t save them they might end up dead. And I go…I know. They might. That’s hard. But you are not their Savior. There is only one Savior and you are not him. Jesus is the only one who can save your child. It’s not fair to yourself or the other people in your life.
It’s like when people are being swept away in a river. You read about this every year during the flood season. Someone gets heroic and jumps in the river to save the drowning person and what happens to them? They drown too. How smart is that? I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to rescue someone but if you jump in the river you need to be tethered to something so you don’t get sucked in.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t help people if they show a sincere desire to change. I’m just saying don’t rescue the person who clearly has no desire to change. You aren’t saving them, you are just prolonging their foolishness. They will let you save them but they are only taking advantage of your kindness. As soon as you are done doing your good deed they will go right back to their old behavior.
Sometimes crashing is the best thing that can happen to them. Isn’t that true? Sometimes the only way up is to go down first. People don’t lose their greed and their pride until they reach the end of themselves. Some people have to spend time in jail or a hospital or a treatment center or experience a divorce before they realize that they’re not so smart after all.
How to help friends: Don’t Judge or Forsake Them
And third, don’t judge them or forsake them. That’s one thing that really stands out to me as I read about the prophets in the Bible. The prophets stuck with God’s people to the very end. And when God’s people suffered for disobeying God the prophets didn’t get all smug and say “I told you so”. Their message immediately turned from warning them to encouraging them that God will restore them. So don’t distance yourself from these people when they crash and burn. Don’t enable them. But don’t run away either. Stay close in case they have a change of heart.
Question: What else can you do to help your friends who crash and burn? Leave your comment below.