Here’s what I need you to know: If you work in inner city environments you’re going to have to realize that there are two different types of people out here. There is person number one who actually needs real help. Then, there is person number two; and this person is out looking for people who want to provide real help.
So, if you’re in a situation where you want to help but you don’t want to become an enabler, then I need you to ask two very specific questions when you get the sob story.
When the person comes to me and says, “Pastor Jay, this is what happened and I need some help.” In my mind, I always ask myself if this is a circumstance? Or is it a consequence? Because those have two very different responses.
If it’s a circumstance, that’s something that this person had no control over. It’s something that they couldn’t have foreseen coming. These are the cases in which something happened to them and you pray something like that doesn’t ever happen to you.
For example, I’ve had young people getting robbed on the way home and their wallet has been taken. So, they don’t have money to get on the bus to go to work, or to get to school the next day. In this case, I’m going to provide a bus pass, or provide some money to make sure that they are taken care of.
It can be a fire, or a domestic situation, where someone has to leave out of a place and maybe they don’t have all of their clothes and weren’t able to grab food on their way out. In these cases, I’m going out to the store to provide for whatever that need is because that’s a circumstance. That’s something that you couldn’t have planned for or seen coming, and I feel that as Christians, we should be stepping into those places and filling in the gaps.
Person number two: Consequences. What did you do to cause this situation?
For example, you said that you lost your job and the story comes out that you actually went and cussed your boss out because they asked you to do some extra work that you didn’t feel like you were supposed to do. In this case, that’s a consequence. You’re supposed to be hungry. You need to think about that for a little while. Trust me, you get hungry enough, I bet you won’t quit your next one.
Now, I’m not going to let you die. I’ll make sure I get you a little protein shake or get you something else to make sure you make it through the day. However, that’s a consequence.
You having your car repossessed because it was more important to you that you have Jordans on your feet than having tires on your car. That’s a consequence. I’m not here to help you with that. No, I cannot pick you up and take you to get to work tomorrow because you decided that those new Jordans needed to be on your feet first, so take them out for a spin. There’s a very big difference in how I’m going to respond.
For people with bad circumstances, when you help them, they’re going to be thankful. They’re going to be overjoyed. They’re going to realize that God is our provider and that He’s using you to help them through something that they couldn’t help themselves with. They’re going to be willing to even do the same thing for the next person.
For people with consequences, those are the folks that need life to teach them some lessons. Sometimes you just have to let life take that bat to the side of their head and allow them to get a few lumps so that they can learn that there are certain rules to life, and when you break them, here’s what that side of the decision looks like.
Now, I’m not going to let you completely fall out and don’t have any help, but I’m definitely not going to take the learning experience away from you either.