Helping others change is difficult work.
It is easy to go about it in a way that actually makes it more difficult for the person you are attempting to help to listen or to want to change. Sometimes we think the reason the person is having a hard time accepting what we are saying is because they just don’t want to hear the truth, when at times, the reality is, we are making the truth seem obnoxious to them by our own obnoxious approach. In other words, it is not the truth that is so hard for them to accept as the way in which we are presenting it.
In his wonderful little book, Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, Spurgeon suggests just this:
“Cheerfulness commends itself, especially to a troubled heart.
We do not want levity in this holy service, but there is a great difference between cheerfulness and levity. I know that I can always tell what I feel to a man who looks kindly at me, but I could I not communicate anything to one who, in a cold official way, talked at me from a great elevation, as though it were his business to enquire into my private concerns with the view of finding me out, and sending me to the rightabout.
Engage in this difficult work softly, gently, affectionately; let your cheerful countenance tell that the religion you have is worth having, that it cheers and comforts you; for, in that way, the poor soul in the Slough of Despond will be more likely to hope that it will cheer and comfort him.”
As pastors and people-helpers, we all have different temperaments and personalities, but certainly we all want to make knowledge acceptable to the people to whom we are speaking, therefore, we should all seek to develop a warm and obviously caring approach to people we are trying to help. Truth is too important for us not to do everything we can to help people hear it and be transformed by it. If we naturally have a cold personality or if the way we approach people makes it tempting for them to feel that we don’t care or that we think of ourselves as better than them, than by all means, let’s be humble enough to work on that.
If we don’t, we may end up doing real harm to others and to the church unnecessarily.