Wanting to be helpful to others is a wonderful characteristic. When God created the first woman, He designed her to be a “helper” (Genesis 2:18). But, being a profitable helper takes some humility, insight, communication and wisdom.
A beautiful and wise lady once relayed a story to me about how her granddaughter wanted to help her. The woman had company coming, and she was trying to prepare her front yard by doing some much needed weeding and gardening. Her granddaughter wanted to help, so as she was removing unwanted weeds from her garden, her granddaughter decided to “help” Grandma by removing plants, as well—except the young “helper” began pulling up the flowers instead of the weeds!
The wise grandma understood that the granddaughter was not being “bad.” She just wanted to help and was attracted to the pretty flowers, so she instinctively kept pulling the flowers instead of the weeds. And the woman did not get angry. Rather, she just redirected the granddaughter to an area in which she could help in a more effective manner.
When I reflect on this story, and on events in my own life, I learn that sometimes “help” is not really help.
As women we want to help, and God made us helpers for our husbands. God designed our nature so that we desire to help. However, we do need to ask ourselves, “Am I really helping? How do I know? Whom should I ask to find out?”
A mother can feel she is “helping” her child by noticing how her child makes her bed every morning and remaking the bed a little better behind her each day. Yet, after a while, the child may start to feel that whatever she does is not good enough for Mom. A lady may see a friend trying to fulfill a particular duty and believe she is helping by wordlessly volunteering and doing part of the task, herself. Yet the friend may be trying to fulfill the duty in a particular way or working on the task according to a particular plan, and the “help” might accidentally make things harder for her friend instead of easier.
Am I saying we should not help? No, definitely not! We are to be helpers, but what we do need to do is be careful with how and when we “help.”
It is true many hands do make light work, but we do need to make sure that, when we help, we ask whoever is in charge to direct our hands to the accomplish the “help” they need us to do. For instance, when helping our husbands we need to help in the way he needs us to help. Even for our children, we need to teach and then, sometimes, “help” by taking a step back and give our children the chance to sink or swim on their own. A great way to do this is by encouraging and cheering them on, giving “course corrections” at appropriate times, to truly help them—perhaps asking them how much help they think they need. It takes judgment to know when helping will mean actively “doing” something, or, perhaps, stepping back from something, watching, and then complimenting someone else on a job well done.
For our friends, we must have a relationship with them such that we can ask and find out how we can best help them. We must also be prepared to hear that the help someone needs may not be the sort of “help” we wanted to provide.
All of this really is simply a matter of taking the Apostle Paul’s admonition of Philippians 2:3–4 to heart:
“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.”
Thankfully, Jesus Christ is the perfect Helper to the Father. If we ask Him, He will help us to better help others!