Crystal Cathedral

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Kindness Korner

A Resentful Helper


“I get angry every time the phone rings” the pastor said. As he talked,it became clear that one person was the cause of this. Every morning, and several times in the evenings, she would call and talk . . . and talk . . . and talk . . . about her problems. Her trouble and unhappiness was real- sickness, unemployment and divorce.

The pastor said he hardly listens anymore. "I politely respond,now and then. But mostly I wait impatiently for her to have her “say”. Hostility has crowded out any empathy or tenderness.

Unable to set limits on this person, or others who in some way placed demands on him, this man has become a resentful helper. His ability to help at all is crippled.

At least two bad consequences follow when we feel unable to say “no” or set limits on those who are asking too much from us:
1) We become bitter at all who ask help from us.
2) Our self-esteem deteriorates.

The pastor must respect himself and set good boundaries. He must tell the troubled caller that he can talk to her once, or twice, a week at a designated hour. No more. Except in real emergencies. He might even declare that he would call her at a specific time.

Jesus himself would at times withdraw (like turn the phone off) to recoup his strength, no doubt. He knew and respected His limits.

The ability to say “no”, to set boundaries, is essential for being able to say “yes”. If I can set a firm limit my decision to set it aside is a strong expression of love and concern. If I can't say "no" my availability is soon going to turn into bitterness and indifference.

Love of self, taking care of myself, is not separable from loving
others. The more healthy my spirit is the higher quality the loving-kindness I give to others will be.

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