What is the balance between helping someone in need and enabling them in a perpetual cycle of bad behavior? Honestly, I never know.
In ministry we always have opportunities to help people. In every church I’ve served as pastor the needs always seemed to be greater than our ability to help. The frustrating part for me is that we tend to see the same people every month. The same few faces come looking for charity. They got into trouble last month and they made the same mistakes again this month. I have often found out later that they were at several other churches to ask for help before they came to ours.
One of the biggest struggles I have as a full-time minister is that I spent most of my life in the business world. I know how hard money is to make and keep (and how easy it is to lose sometimes.) I don’t ever want to be uncaring. I always want to do what Jesus would do, but honestly, there are many times that there doesn’t seem to be clearly defined answer.
I do believe that helping every time is not the answer either. I don’t give my boys what they say they “need” every time. I don’t think God does that for us either. Doing without and learning hard lessons from it are often a great part of life.
Does anyone have some easy to follow guidelines of when to help and when not to? I know the response to ”follow your heart”, but my heart always wants to give. It’s many times my head that’s yelling “Wait, don’t do it! This is a scam!” Trying to balance between the two is difficult for me. I’m sure that’s part of the messiness of ministry.