Helping someone else might involve money, time, or other resources that you have and other people need. It can be as simple as donating to a charitable cause or as complex as offering a service to someone else. It's everything from dropping a friend at the airport to babysitting children to keeping someone company while they sit vigil at a hospital for someone else. It's as easy as giving a buddy a much-needed compliment and as difficult as sharing a hard truth with a close friend.
In the digital age, we can help people next door or half a world away. There's no geographic limitation.
There are two elements to the question of "when?" The first is identifying the need, and that is either because a person asks for help or someone else speaks up on their behalf. The second element is the timing of the actual help, itself. It may be urgent or it may be something scheduled and delayed. Either way, though, when help is time-sensitive, it's important that is recognized and respected.
This is a question that only you can answer. In general, helping someone is best done altruistically, truly done for the benefit of someone else. But it can be done in honor of someone else, for example. And the most common reason I help someone else? Because it lets me take my attention of myself and my own problems and resets my bad attitude.
This is absolutely the best part, the specifics of helping people.
If a friend asks for help, it's easy. Just do what they ask for if at all possible. If they need a ride, or a reference, or a reminder, give it to them. If they ask to talk through a problem, listen to them. If they are struggling with confidence, help prop them up by reminding them of their strengths.
Even if you can't be there in person, you can make a difference for someone. Send them a personal note, or a card, or a little gift. Text them an encouraging message. Call them and give them a reason to smile.
There are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Be honest.
- Be direct.
- Be specific.
- Be mindful.
- It should be about them, not you.
And now for a more controversial opinion: Prayers aren't the answer. At least, they can't be the only answer. Prayer isn't helpful if it isn't accompanied by actual help. And that is an opinion supported by the Bible, itself.
Faith and Works
The Book of James
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
Helping others is truly one of the grandest things we can do as human beings. We can literally change the path of someone's life with a simple word or action. Who wouldn't want to do that every chance you can?
And I'd like to hear from folks with examples of helping others. Don't be shy or fear that your comments may seem like you are bragging. I'm specifically asking, what have you done and how did it help someone else?