Four people you just won't be able to help

One of the desires the Lord has placed upon my heart, and the hearts of many other Christian leaders, is the desire to help others. We want to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus. We want to help couples work on their marriages. We want to help those who are feeling discouraged begin to see their circumstances through the eyes of God. We want to help other leaders who have taken on challenging tasks.

But sadly, one of the things the Lord has taught many of us is that not everyone who needs help, wants help. And even if you have the desire to be helpful, they may not want to accept help from you.

Consider some of the people you may want to help, but as of yet, they haven’t been open to it. Have you noticed any patterns in their behavior or demeanor? Let me share a little bit about four people I don’t think we can help.

  1. You can’t help people who are too proud to receive help. Some people just aren’t receptive to help because their personal pride gets in the way. In their manner of thinking, they become less of a person if they accept help or counsel from you. So they reject your help and continue to walk in the blindness of their pride.

  2. You can’t help people who aren’t teachable. The greatest leaders tend to be very teachable people. They want to learn and they’re open to receiving helpful information from all kinds of sources. But many people in this world just aren’t teachable. They don’t want to hear what you have to say. They’re content with what they think they already know, even if their beliefs are faulty.

  3. You can’t help people who reject personal repentance. Repentance seems like a scary word to most people, but Scripture teaches that all Christians should joyfully practice repentance. Jesus is perfect, but as of yet, we are not. In the meantime, since we’re still in the process of growing mature in our faith, we need to be willing to repent when the Holy Spirit or another believer points out an area of sin or error in our lives. But some people reject this notion. They offend easily and carry grudges for years. Their grudges morph into bitterness in their hearts to the point that they frequently reject practicing personal repentance.

  4. You can’t help people who are held captive by fear. Some people have been deeply wounded and bear the scars of the many times they’ve been hurt by others. Their experiences have influenced them to become excessively fearful to the point that they’re hesitant to take the personal risks they must take in order to receive the help they need. As a self-protective strategy, they retreat to what is familiar and they close themselves off to new information or outside assistance.

We all need help. Scripture teaches us to carry one another’s burdens because that’s exactly what Jesus has done for us. With that in mind, there are people in my life that I’m trying to help right now, but they aren’t open to receiving it. Sometimes it breaks my heart. Other times it makes me angry. But I’m learning that there are some people I won’t be able to help, no matter how hard I try. So what should I do? What should you do if this sounds strangely familiar?

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
— Galatians 6:2, ESV

Even though you may not be able to personally help the people you’re trying to help, don’t completely give up. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to intervene in their lives. Turn them over to God and ask Him to soften their hard, proud, unteachable, unrepentant, and fearful hearts. We may not be able to help them, but He certainly can.

Who have you been trying to help, even though your efforts feel fruitless? How is the Lord leading you to pray for that person? What do you expect the Lord to do in that person’s life once He softens their heart?

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV

© John Stange, 2019