SERVING PROPERLY REQUIRES WISDOM

He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
(James 1:5,6 TMSG)

As a believer, my primary prayer to God every morning is for wisdom knowing that trying to figure out the best manner in which I am to respond to the issues that will arise within my life that day myself will only end in frustration without the wisdom of God driving my thought process and resulting actions.

Working in the mental health area trying to help those who are living on the fringes of society with very little resources to survive, wisdom is needed to show them God's love but not enable them to live with an inappropriate lifestyle.

Not long ago I had an opportunity to drive 500 miles to Doylestown, Pennsylvania and speak with a Christian Psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Benzio, for over 3 hours. He had developed a decision making program entitled WITHIN REACH. Dr. Benzio is the Founder of the Lighthouse Network, an organization established to help individuals in all walks of life make better decisions by following the steps outlined in the program.

The program is built around the acrostic SPEARS and the letters in the word stand for

1. S-timuli

2. P-erception

3. E-motions

4. A-ssessment

5. R-esponse

6. S-ummary thought

The concepts and steps in the decision making process presented in the program are as follows:

1. Stimuli - Something happens in your life, someone does something to you or says something about you, etc.

2. Perception - You view what just happened or what was said from a certain perspective, good or bad, based on a belief system already resident in your life. This is when Satan is most active trying to get you to believe whatever will ultimately lead to causing you the most trouble. Almost always, at the time of the initial perception, we do not because we cannot know the actual TRUTH about the situation because what has happened involves motives and intentions which are matters of the heart and we cannot know another person's heart. This is why God tells us to "lean not on your own understanding".

3. Emotions - Your emotions will follow the direction of your perception. If your view is that what just happened was good, your emotions will be favorable and you will feel good and if your view is that what just happened was bad, your emotions will go down and you will be angry, fearful, depressed, etc.

4. Assessment - Since you should never make a decision when your emotions are in control, when they settle down, you should assess what just happened considering all possibilities both good and bad.

5. Response - After an adequate time to assess the situation, then you are in a position to respond appropriately. Taking time to assess the situation gives God time to work and bring to your mind possibilities that only He could know.

6. Summary Thought - Now we can look back on what happened and see the whole picture and when the situation plays out see whether we had made a good decision in response to the experience that took place in our life.

This is how this decision making process just played out in my life.

There is a man I have been working with who has many issues relating to his physical and mental condition that are making his life very difficult. Until recently he was unable to keep a job and child support issues constantly keep him on the brink of incarceration. He and his wife have three young children at home one of which is bi polar and causes all kinds of trouble at home including getting into things she should not get into and stealing.

Whenever an emergency arises, this man calls me and because of my love for this family, I always want to help them but with limited resources myself and no income except a pension and social security, with a granddaughter we are raising, I need to be wise in the use of the resources God has entrusted us with.

I have directed this man to other resources for help several times and due to his constant needs, many times organizations and agencies are unable to help them but the emergencies continue to arise. Yesterday, he needed a ride to the hospital for surgery in a city 35 miles away and though it was outpatient surgery, I wasn't sure what his condition would be like when he came out possibly after sedation so I agreed to take him. Since he asked at the last minute, no one else could help. Now this morning he calls and said when he went to get gasoline his money was missing from his wallet and he needed me to buy him some gas. I understand the principles that should be applied in helping people but how far do you go without enabling him? If he didn't have gasoline to get to work, he would lose his job, couldn't pay his child support and would be back in jail.

So, here is how the SPEARS decision making process applies.

The Stimuli was the call that the man had no gasoline to get to work. My initial Perception was, out of love and concern, I should get him some gasoline. My primary Emotions were concern and frustration. On the way to the gasoline station I had time to make an Assessment of the situation. The man loves his family and makes every effort to maintain a job which will support his family. This job pays $11.00 per hour, is not more than he can handle since he loves the job and he is going to get paid the next day. In the past I have "loaned" him money to buy whatever he needed with a promise to repay but to date he has never paid me back for anything and gives me no explanation why he couldn't. I never ask just figuring something came up preventing him from keeping his promise. How could I help him without enabling this continue drain on my limited resources.

By the time I got to the gasoline station, I had a plan in my mind that I trust was driven by wisdom from God. I verified the fact that he would get paid the next day and told him, after the Men's Prayer breakfast at church the next day after he got paid, if he wanted my help, I wanted him to show me his check and we would set up a plan which would include, not only a budgeting mechanism but also a manner in which he would be able to secure any money he had from theft and he would need to account to me for any money he spent so I would feel more comfortable in knowing exactly what I was financing by helping him. He said he would do that, he got his gasoline and was off to work.

My Summary Thought was, this man needed help but not just financial. He needed to know that God would be his source of supply as long as he was doing what he needed to do, leading his family into a closer relationship with Him.

How are you allowing God to assist you in making your decisions and how is it working?



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