Saturday, February 26, 2005

The good hunger

This morning I read "The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on." (Proverbs 16:26), and it got me thinking how often I try to blunt the pain of others when it actually would be better to let them deal with it themselves. I feel sorry for the hungry person or my financially strapped son and I want to plunge it and fix it so they'll feel better. And sometimes this is necessary; to not act now could result in disaster later - starvation or a serious financial crisis. But other times my intervention short circuits the natural process which drives the hungry person on to feed himself. In these situations, I end up doing more harm than good, creating dependencies that make it harder in the future for a person to take the necessary initiative to care for himself. There are times when I need to ask myself "am I wanting to help this person because he really needs the help, or because it makes me feel good to be a helper?" and, if it's the latter, to stick my money back in my pocket and let him take the actions on his own that will ultimately help him to grow up into a healthy responsible maturity.

Update: It's worth saying here that my son hasn't asked me for any help. He's handling his financial issues very responsibly. My desire to "help" is more a wish to "spare him the pain," which reflects more on my needs than it does on his.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Words of wisdom, RalphW. We've all read about the difference between feeding a man some fish and teaching a man how to fish. It can be hard to hold back but please, Dear Lord, give us the wisdom to know when to do so. I recall the words of a co-worker as he told me of his Uncle the philosopher who waxed on about how everything we do in life is based purely on greed, even good deeds and such, because it makes us feel good about ourselves and/or gives us something good to speak of about ourselves. I don't know, maybe he was right, but I thought: "what a miserable way to look at the world!". As for young people, it's like talking to the deaf. They have to find their own way and make their own mistakes. Your boy is lucky to have someone like you that is there to provide encouragement or an ear when needed. And that can mean so very, very much.