We had an unfortunate incident over here recently that I don't feel free to write about, but it resulted in me having a long discussion with the boys about being helpful.
Our philosophy of helpfulness is this:
If someone asks for help, agree. Furthermore, it is necessary to agree with a cheerful, extremely helpful comment like, "Absolutely! I would be happy to help in any way I can. Just tell me what you would like me to do and I will do it."
Then you do it, without any complaining whatsoever. Furthermore, you help without any comment that makes the needy person feel, in any way, that you're inconvenienced at all. To let them think you are inconvenienced is not helpful.
There are only a few times it would be appropriate to say that you can't help.
1. Someone other than you would be hurt... like your infant child would starve if you were gone.
2. Sin would occur...... like when the person is asking for a getaway driver.
3. You would be physically damaged...... as in, it would break your leg.
There are maybe a few more that I can't think of right now. If they come extremely readily to your mind though, perhaps they fall more into the categories below of when you should help.
There are some times when it would certainly inconvenience you to say yes. Someone might call you in the night because they feel so sick and don't know what to do..... go help them. Someone might need a television..... Ok, want a television so they can watch a game that is coming on. Go help them. And that example leads us to another situation.
What about when someone claims they need help when you just don't think they do? Or maybe you think if they just did xyz a different way then they wouldn't need help.
Help them anyway. Nobody made us the police of the proper way to need help. No one decided that we could play God and choose when a need is holy enough for us to help with. No one decided that we could only help with things that we might need help with some day.
So after we had this discussion with the boys, Joey emerged triumphant. He decided he wanted to be a helper. A few times since then he has decided to test what would happen if he wasn't helpful, and we had the talk again.
Usually he says to me, "Yes! I am happy to help!" And that makes my heart so happy. One of my methods for teaching joyful helping to my boys is to give the most happy grateful "thank you!" that my voice can produce. I say it loudly, so everyone around hears it. That makes the helper feel good and it makes the other child want to receive a 'thank you' too. And lately, both boys have started helping without being asked. If one of them sees clothes of Ilse's, or an extension or a dirty bag on the floor, they put it where it goes. Ahhhhhhh. :)
There are a few people in my life who are helpful no matter what. My parents are two of them. My mother gives up her every Wednesday to come rescue me from my house. She encourages me, reads to my boys, and holds my daughter. My dad is unbelievably helpful too. He crawled up into my attic. He got up super early on his day off to watch my boys so I could get Tim to his surgery. He apologized over and over for forgetting to put a light switch plate back on.... He is the most gracious helper.
Tim's dad came over late one night to fix my washer. I appreciated that so much, I can't even tell you. If you have seen my laundry you know how important that was to me, and he happily fixed it.
There are a few others who help with joy.
And even though it makes me sad when someone obviously doesn't want to help me, I know that I am not the police of helpers. I can only teach my boys how to be helpers, and I can point out to them good helpers. And, most importantly, I can demonstrate good helping to them.
I want to be the kind of person who will drop everything I need to do and go help someone. I know I have done that before, and I am thankful that I know I can. In my teenage years, I loathed helping others, I distinctly remember hating helping Miss Donna and Mrs. Donnelly. I just didn't like to get my hands dirty. Oh, I would help, if I couldn't get out of it, but I only helped because of who would see me.
Thankfully the Lord gave me good examples, but, I am sad to say, even now there are definitely times I don't like to help. And most horribly, sometimes I discourage my husband from helping.
What complete and utter scandalousness. What horrible, horrible sin that is.
With the Lord's help, I can be a good helper.
And with the Lord's help, you can be too.