Who doesn’t want to help a friend? Well, there are different ways to help. Let me tell you a story about friends who wanted to help a friend and did not.
I vividly remember a dinner party with old friends. After all the “hellos” and “it sure is good to see you” comments, we sat down for dinner. Into the main course of the dinner, a person at the table voiced a personal issue. The attention of everyone at the table was riveted hearing this person’s story.
Unfortunately, friends wanted to give advice and it poured out like a rain storm.
The rate the discussion was going I thought chances were good for an overnight at the guest home. Thankfully, someone said, “Bob, thank you for sharing. If anyone wants to talk more with Bob he will be here after dinner. You are in our thoughts.”
There are ways to be a good friend in this type of situation. Pay attention. Listen carefully. Raise several questions along the way. This example of a dinner conversation can be replicated whether it’s a phone call, lunch with a friend or having a cup of coffee together. We want to help. What is our response to a family member, a fellow Christian, work colleague or friend?
We live in a culture that says capable and intelligent people should solve their own problems. After all, I solved mine. Or did I? The other struggle we face is defining a friendship. What are your expectations in the relationship? What are mine? Again, our culture advances the idea that good friends fix up and solve problems of their friends. That is what makes a friend.
How do I support someone going through a tough time without giving answers? How do I stand by a friend who is struggling? When and where do I ask if my friend would like a prayer?
Some people at the dinner table said afterwards, “They could not understand why their advice was not heeded because from their perspective, the answer was clear what to do.” Dinner guests wanted to save this person. And course, one can’t.
Sometimes it is helpful to ask someone who is about tell us a deep concern, “What do you want from me?” It is a good focusing question for the listener. What can I do and what can’t I do?
Maybe all one can do is to be a listening post. Maybe it’s getting together again. You are available.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” I Corinthians 13:4