Confidence grows slowly and steadily when we are empowered by people walking alongside us.
I could see the hope and confidence slowly fading and being sucked away in this young guys face. He was going to return to live with mummy.
He was doing so well with the support our team was giving him. We were empowering him to reach out and try new things including managing his own money. When he opened his own bank account, well it was just too much for his elderly mother. She believed he was incapable of managing money and so she withdrew him from our support.
She had decided that she knew best. It shut him down, put him in a box, and I still wonder to this day what happened when she was put in a box.
A parent’s love can be crippling to confidence.
Have you ever seen this happen? Where true and deep recovery can be snuffed out by well-meaning but ill-informed rescuers.
There is a story in the Bible that I hold in my heart for when I want to walk alongside someone and help them on their heroes journey.
Jesus has died, and then he is resurrected. This, of course, throws up lots of struggles for his followers. Their world has been turned upside down and shaken all about. But it is what Jesus does to help them get some steadiness in the world that I want to focus on.
Jesus walks alongside them.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognising him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:13-35
Did you see that?
Jesus, God of the universe, who knows all things, asks them a question. He stimulates discussion. He empowers the recovery with conversation.
I picture Jesus walking alongside these two. Asking a few questions, giving some ideas to throw in their thought blender, guiding the conversation, so they come to some new places in their thinking.
Here is God fully alive, all-knowing and divine, yet not rescuing the hurting children.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don’t walk infront of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Attributed to Albert Camus
The concept of empowerment is a large topic. Too much for one simple blog post. You can learn more in my ‘Pay what you like’ book ‘So you want to help.’ In the booklet, I include a list of 10 different ways in which Jesus demonstrated empowerment.
Five keys to empowering someone’s confidence
Grow in self-awareness.
You need to be conscious and disciplined in the use of the self. Conscious of all your motivations etc. Then being disciplined in how they influence what you say and do.
Ask yourself some questions.
- What is that you bring to this relationship.
- What are your hopes and dreams for this person?
- What baggage are you carrying from the past that you might unwittingly dump on them?
- What are your expectations?
- How has life shaped you?
- What are your beliefs?
- All of those things you need to be aware of and how they influence what you say and do.
Listen deeply to what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Shut up. Yes, I’m talking to you.
You who wants to fix and solve the problem. I want you to listen.
Listen for the struggle under the presenting struggle. When you’re coming alongside others it means you step into the pace they’re setting, frustratingly slow as it may seem to be for you.
People won’t care how much you know
until they know how much you care.
Make them the hero of the journey.
You encourage the hero of the story to take responsibility for its progress.
A hero doesn’t want others rescuing them or smothering them with kindness. Think Bruce Willis.
Don’t rob the hero of the learning they gather from the stubbed toes and failures.
Celebrate the small millimeter steps in recovery
It’s the millimeter steps of progress that will truly add up over time. Don’t expect flying leaps of progress. Those sure and steady millimeters add up over time. It’s the getting out of bed when you’re depressed. It’s the taking a little step into uncertainty when you’re anxious.
All of these can feel like mountain tops ‘knocked off’ to a person in the struggle.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin Zechariah 4:10
Learn how to problem solve with them, not for them.
The best tool I have ever learned to use is a problem-solving sheet.
With a problem-solving sheet, you make the problem the problem. You take the problem out of being in the brain to being on a piece of tangible paper. You brainstorm solutions and come to a ridiculously achievable goal that has a review date.
Heroes need helpers, and to be in the position of walking alongside in their recovery, is truly a precious thing.
Confidence grows slowly and steadily when we are empowered by people walking alongside.
Quotes to consider
- There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his brother’s keeper will end up by being his jail-keeper. Eric Hoffer
- The main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. The danger is that of coming to love the prison. C.S. Lewis
- A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the Spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb
- Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Questions to Answer
- Why do we want to quickly solve others problems for them?
- How hard is it to be conscious and disciplined in the use of the self?
- I have lots of quotes in this blog post. What one grabbed your attention?
Image cc: Jonas Weckschmied