When is help not help?

I’m taking a survey as I do some research for a possible book idea. The topic: when is help not help.

Part 1: In general, if someone offers to help you, but the help they give isn’t something you need, is it still help? For example, if you need A, B and C done, but they insist on doing X, Y and Z, even though you may not need them done, have they helped you? Or satisified themself?

Part 2: In Christian ministry, if someone has a physical need (ie: hunger) and we respond with a spiritual answer (ie: a Bible, a church service), have we helped?  Is there a point at which we need to first satisfy physical needs before presenting spiritual answers? And. from a Christian perspective, can you satisfy a physical need without at some point offering spiritual assistance? For example, if you’ve fed a starving person without at some point introducing them to Jesus, have you helped them?

No right answers, just curious for some feedback!


2 responses to “When is help not help?

  1. Robert Echevarria

    This is complex. Robert Putnam recently published his book “American Grace,” which shows the religious people tend to be nicer and more engaged citizens. That being said, the “help” I have often seen is heard as: “I will pray for you,” which is similar to witnessing to a hungry person. This, I think, is at least partially, a cover for laziness and a desire to not engage.

    • I think we like to say things that we think make ourselves feel better in situations where we can’t really do anything – or when helping actually means getting our hands dirty or going out of our way for someone. A comic once wrote something about actually praying when we say “I’ll pray for you”, and if we did the world would change overnight. I think about that every time I offer to pray for someone.

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