When you’re successful at doing it all on your own you’re left with feelings of accomplishment and pride. More often, however, you can’t do it all on your own. And then you’re faced with a very big question; where do I go to get some help?

Who you ask for help makes a big difference in whether or not you’ll have a good outcome. I once spent a considerable amount of time trying to get help from someone who was available and supportive. In the end, however, the “help” turned out to be terribly expensive both financially and personally. And I needed help to get over the “help!”

If you need your windows replaced or your lawn mowed you go to someone who has experience and expertise in that specific area. It doesn’t matter as much whether they’re a believer in Jesus, or how they treat their spouse.

But if you need help with your character in some way, it’s a different story. If you’re looking for someone to help you get over pain from your past, deal with anxiety or depression, improve a troubled marriage, or overcome some destructive behavior pattern, the stakes are much higher. You’ll never find a human being who’s perfect, but you want the help you receive to be true help.

Here are some things to look for in whoever you go to for help:

  1. Do they demonstrate some spiritual growth or maturity? The totality of their life and work, to the degree that you know it, should show that they are serious about their walk with God. If you know or watch them over a period of time, they should continue to mature and grow.
  2. Do they demonstrate some humility? Arrogance, pat answers, constant putdowns, or condescending pronouncements demonstrate the opposite of humility. True humility acknowledges weaknesses, and takes action to change. (For example, a good helper may have had a troubled marriage, learned new behaviors, and has a thriving marriage today.)
  3. Do they demonstrate integrity? Do they say what they do, and do what they say? A good professional helper doesn’t spend time airing their personal dirty laundry, but what you know about them should appear clean and reliable.
  4. Do you want to be more like them? I once declined an opportunity to be more deeply involved in a certain ministry because the leader had a very troubled marriage and family life. I didn’t want that spirit to infect my home and life.

That last one is especially important. You will become like the people you spend the most time around, who you admire the most, and who you make yourself vulnerable to. If you take advice from someone, be sure you want the results they got from following the same advice themselves.

Notice that I don’t have “good listener” or “compassionate” or even “available” on this list. The good news in today’s world is that you can get help from both people you are physically close to and those you never meet, both professional helpers and those who aren’t. Here are some examples of the kinds of people you might be able to get help from:

  • A personal friend
  • A boss, teacher, coach, or mentor
  • A counselor or therapist
  • A minister, pastor, or priest
  • An author, speaker, or public figure
  • A historical figure

Many of these helpers are available for free. Radio programs, podcasts, email blasts, books, internet sites, carefully chosen TV programs, self-help groups, live seminars, church meetings – so much is available. There’s absolutely no need to go it alone.

This list of course applies to Christian counselors or pastors. Before asking someone for help or guidance, consider what you know of their life and choose carefully.

Here’s the single best way to choose someone to get help or advice from. Look for someone who demonstrates what you want to become in some way, and study them. Talk to them and ask them questions if you can. If not, watch them. Read about them. Find out the mistakes they made and how they learned from them, or the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them.

Best of all, find out how they followed Jesus, and do the same.

As Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) There’s no better way to get help than that.

Your Turn: Have you gone to get help from anyone? How did that work out? Leave a comment below. 

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