No Help Wanted?

by Rich Dixon on October 30, 2014

No helpThanks, but I can do it all by myself.

Of course, I know better. There’s no such thing as “all by myself,” but that doesn’t stop me from fighting to maintain the illusion of independence.

I think about “help” a lot. Because of the wheelchair, others ask often how they can offer help without offending when someone seems to need a bit of assistance. My friend Jon Swanson asked yesterday, “What if asking for help is okay?

I think one of the barriers might be the nature of the word “help,” which perhaps implies something about helplessness and the powerful assisting the weak. I’m bigger, stronger, or smarter, and I’m willing to help you. If you’re the person being “helped” you are implicitly inferior. While that may be objectively true, even an unintended superior/inferior connotation perpetuates a feeling of helplessness.

On the other hand, service conveys humility. It’s more of a willingness to partner with another person, to travel beside him on his path. Perhaps it’s a sense that service offers who I am rather than what I can do.

Service involves a relationship, taking time to care for more than just an immediate need. Perhaps when offering to perform a task, the servant also stops to chat for a moment. While it takes more time, this extra step communicates a sense of equality that touches and enriches both people.

Looking through this lens, we’d do better to adopt an attitude of humility on either side of the helping equation. So when we see a perceived need, we offer to serve.

And we drop the notion of “all by myself,” humble ourselves, and allow others to serve by asking for help.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, the servant of all.” (Mark 9)

How have you experienced the difference between help and service?

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by Rich Dixon on October 27, 2014

Happy Monday!

An interesting comment in a class for small group leaders prrompts today’s word-of-the-week…


Monday“People would rather read books written by experts about the bible than the bible itself.”

It’s an interesting notion–why not let someone who knows the intracacies of Hebrew and Greek, the in’s and out’s of ancient culture, figure out all that interpretation stuff? They’re surely more qualified than I am, right?

The class was called BIBLE BASICS, and we gathered to discuss some ideas about using scripture in our small groups. I’d just floated the notion that the basic purpose of the bible is revelation. It’s God telling us who He is, and He wants a relationship.

Relationships require communitation, time, and the investment of getting to know each other. I asked how that would work out in our personal relationships if we tried to outsource the hard work to a third party. Maybe I could hire a marriage expert to get to know my wife, then tell me the highlights.

Of course that’s preposturous, and creepy, but it’s exactly what we’re doing when we trust an expert to tell us what we need to know about Jesus.

Jesus is a person, not a collection of ideas. If I read a book about the bible, I’ll learn about someone else’s relationship with Him.

I think He’d prefer something more intimate.

Have a great week.

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