Everybody can help Somebody
When our youngest daughter was in her third year of Medical School, an Internal Medicine Resident demonstrated how to put in a central line. (A catheter threaded through a major vein in the upper chest area permitting access to veins close to the heart for measurement and infusion of medications) A few weeks later, a teaching professor asked her class if anyone knew how to put in a central line. After she raised her hand, she was instructed to put in a line for the next patient. A few months later she was attending Radcliffe Infirmary, a hospital intensive care facility managed by Anesthesiologists in Oxford, England. During hospital rounds the first week, the group of students were asked if anyone knew how to put in a central line. When she answered yes, she was instructed to begin teaching the other students. In some aspects of medical care, the statement “see one, do one, teach one,” is a common practice. It is the same for many professions. Why is it, then, so seldom seen in our Christian communities? Many need help in learning how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to begin memorizing scripture, how to apply the scriptures to their lives, and how to share their faith. Is our lack of instruction due to the fact that we (many of us) were never helped in these areas ourselves? Do we assume that these things just naturally become a part of our lives if we simply attend church and sit in a pew once a week? Or are we content to let the “professionals,” the “pastoral staff,” do these things while we simply observe them doing their work? In the thinking of some isn’t that why they were hired? I recall Howard Hendricks telling a story once about Bud Wilkinson, the legendary Oklahoma football coach. He asked Bud what he thought the game of football had done to promote physical fitness. His answer was “It has done a terrible job!” He went on to say, “It is just like the church. There are twenty two people down front desperately needing a little rest and forty thousand people in the stands desperately needing a little exercise!”
Paul says the following in Romans 15:14. “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” In the process of encouraging others to apply this verse to their lives I have discovered three common reasons why it is not being accomplished. The first of these is lack of margin in our lives that permits time for others. Individuals who have been instructed and who have these skills demonstrated in their lives find their schedules dominated by work, family, hobbies and other responsibilities. It is sometimes hard to convince them that anyone should be able to spare at least one hour per week to meet with someone and help them grow spiritually. Is it so difficult to simply get up an hour earlier once a week or to meet with someone over a lunch hour?
The second reason I encounter is that of not knowing what to do with another person. In order to teach someone, however, you need to only be one step ahead. Are you able to share what Christ has shown you in the Bible this last week? Are we able to share how the Lord has answered prayer? Can we share with others how we have learned to study the Bible? Can we point them to a book, or a CD, or DVD that has been meaningful to us? Can we take them with us to a conference, speaker, or church? Paul said “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” If we are following Christ, His life will be reflected in our walk with Him and they will learn from the exposure of simply spending time with us.
The third reason that some do not help others is that they feel inadequate. The answer to this objection is simple. Of course they are inadequate! We are all inadequate. I never start a new venture in which the Lord has directed but what I sense a feeling of inadequacy almost bordering at times on panic. “How in the world am I supposed to do that?” is a recurring thought. What I have learned, however, is that my inadequacy drives me to His adequacy. II Corinthians 3:4-6 states “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Alistair Begg once made this comment “If dependence is the goal, then weakness is an advantage.”
We are all given seven days a week, twenty four hours a day. Should we not bring this time to the Lord daily, asking Him how He wants to use it for His Kingdom? He came to seek and to save the lost. As His disciples, He desires that we be involved with the lives of others, bringing them to Him that they may know Him as their Lord and Savior, establishing them in the faith and equipping them for their ministry . He asked Peter in the garden “Could you not watch for an hour?” He might well be questioning us about our availability for this hour as well. II Corinthians 5:10 states “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” It is His desire to reward us for our availability to His Spirit so that his work through our lives in the lives of others will be evident on that Day. It is my prayer that He will see and be pleased with the choices that you have made, knowing that, indeed, everybody can help somebody.
In Christ, Richard Spann