Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Today, we are going to talk about a part of encouragement and care that is often overlooked—or, rather, it’s often used as an excuse to NOT reaching out to those around us who are hurting.
We’re talking about the cost of caring for others.
Now, I don’t mean financial cost, though there are actually many times and situations where you may need to be willing to part with some money in order to care for someone else.
No, we’re talking about some of the other costs involved. And really, these are sacrifices that we are going to have to be willing to make—not all the time, but when God calls us to.
Think about a friend or two of yours who is going through a difficult season right now. Maybe she is grieving the loss of a parent. Maybe she is frustrated in her work. Maybe she can’t seem to get the upper hand with her depression or she’s growing hopeless with her chronic illness.
Friend, I want to remind you that being an encourager and caring for others is a good work. It’s meaningful work. I believe you’re here because you have that desire in you to help others, to be with them in the hard times so they know they are loved. So they know they matter.
But caring for others can also be a difficult work. And so, as we enter into this work, we must be honest with ourselves and ask ourselves this question: “Am I willing to pay the cost it’s going to take to help these friends?”
What are some of these costs we need to consider?
First, it’s going to cost us our time.
Caring for others doesn’t necessarily come as something you can easily fit into your schedule. You must have margin in your life so that when someone calls, you are generally available to talk or help.
That doesn’t mean you don’t set a few boundaries to protect your own health and your family. That doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and go running whenever someone asks. No, you’re going to be smart about it.
Yet, you might have to give up a day off. You might have to pass on dinner with your friends. You might need to not get all of your work finished that day.
This cost of time was actually one of the top five obstacles we talked about in our Courageous Care Challenge. We are unavailable. We don’t have the time. We’re too busy to help. But… are we really? Or is there something we can cut out of our schedule so that we can create margin to care for those around us? Go back and listen to episode 20 if you want to dive deeper into this.
Michael Slater writes, “When somebody is having a hard moment, I believe it can be especially important to reach out and show that person that his or her life is more important than any schedule.”
Think back on your own life. Has anyone ever cancelled their plans to be by your side in a moment of grief and heartache? What did that mean to you?
Slater continues on about the spirit with which we give of our time: “These inconvenient minutes or hours are never given in bitterness or anger because they are tender, sweet moments, and the spirit of God has the opportunity to speak to you.”
How do you show up to your friend in these moments? Are you angry or bitter about it? Or do you show up willingly, with grace?
Are you willing to sacrifice some of your time to help carry others through difficult seasons?
Second, caring for others is going to cost us some effort.
Helping others isn’t always easy. We don’t always have the answers right in front of us, a checklist of sorts that lets us know exactly what needs done, when it needs done, and how to do it.
We have to put some energy into figuring out how to come alongside our friend. We may have to physically help carry her. We might need to go to the store and wait in the long line so we can bring some groceries home to her. We might need to watch four rowdy kids so she can get some rest. We might need to pause and think of what words to write in a letter to her. We might need to search out the perfect gift that will speak to her heart in the midst of her grief.
Sometimes, I honestly don’t know the best way to help someone, and so I’m constantly bringing it before God and asking Him. I’m thinking about what she’s going through. I’m trying to figure out what her love language is. I’m taking time to listen to God, to see where He might be directing me. I’m paying attention to those nudges throughout the day. “Text her.” “Get her that candy bar.” Give her some space.” “Pray for her.” And friends, praying in that kind of way, listening in that kind of way, takes effort. It takes focus.
But think about the blessing that person will receive in the end as a result of your willingness to be there and help. To pay attention to the details. To care for her in a way that is meaningful to her. Is it worth it?
Finally, it’s going to cost some emotional involvement.
I’m not sure it’s possible to truly be an encourager—to help care for someone through a difficult time—unless we allow ourselves to become emotionally involved with them in a friendship.
We grieve when she grieves. We rejoice when she rejoices. We cry with her. We cannot help but feel what others are feeling. And in many cases, we can’t do anything in that moment to change things. We can’t bring her loved one back to life. We can’t make the sickness go away. We can’t get her job back for her.
But we sit with her in that darkness and we experience it with her. And we cry along with her. And that is part of our caring for her.
We actually talked about this one in our Courageous Care Challenge, too, on Day 4, when we talked about how we can be uncomfortable to see our friend hurting, and so we close off our hearts so we don’t have to feel the pain with them. In that episode, I said we have to make a choice: We can choose to harden our hearts so that the suffering of others doesn’t bother us and we just go on our way. Or we can ask God to give us the strength to enter into the suffering with them, to endure, to go to the uncomfortable places, so that we can love them.
Are you willing to keep your heart open to these individuals, these friends of yours who are going through difficult seasons?
Count the Cost
And so we go back to our question from the beginning: “Am I willing to pay the cost it’s going to take to help these friends?”
Caring for others is not something we take lightly. We must count the cost of caring for others—and be willing to accept it.
Luke 14:28 says, “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”
In this episode, we have talked about how encouraging others can cost us time, energy, and emotional investment. But it can cost us money, too, and many other things. Others may not understand why we do it. Some might reject us and our help.
Are you willing to keep on caring?
What is it costing you right now to care for others who are hurting? Are you bitter or angry about that? Is there something else God might call you to give up in the future to help a friend in need?
Take a few moments just to pause and write down anything that comes to mind. Be honest.
Count the cost, my friend. This is not a ministry to be taken lightly. Yet I believe God will give you everything you need to care for those He has placed in your life. Do it with His power and under His guidance, and the cost—whether it feels small or great—will be worth it.
If you feel called by God to encourage and care for others, but you are struggling with discerning the best way to do it or how to be willing to accept these costs associated with it, I want to personally invite you to consider spiritual direction with me. In a spiritual direction session, we can bring your questions and concerns before God and listen to Him together. I would love to sit with you in that sacred space.
You can sign up for a complimentary Discernment Call where we can talk about it some more. And, if God is inviting you to an extended time of seeking Him, I want you to consider committing an entire year to spiritual direction—learning to hear His voice, working through past hurts, or exploring spiritual practices that draw you closer to Him.
You and I will commit to a year of listening to God together. Of seeking Him. Of pursuing Him. Of being pursued by Him.
You can learn more about both of these opportunities by going to lovedoesthat.org/spiritualdirection. And you can learn more about spiritual direction in general by listening to episode 25 of the podcast.
Friend, thank you so much for being here today. I love your heart for helping others through difficult times, and I want you to know, you aren’t doing this alone. We’re all in this together. You helping your neighbor, and me helping mine.
Until next time…
BIBLE VERSES + QUOTES:
- “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)
- “When somebody is having a hard moment, I believe it can be especially important to reach out and show that person that his or her life is more important than any schedule…. These inconvenient minutes or hours are never given in bitterness or anger because they are tender, sweet moments, and the spirit of God has the opportunity to speak to you.” (Michael Slater)
- Episode 20: [Courageous Care Challenge] Day 2: Unavailable (http://lovedoesthat.org/20)
- Episode 22: [Courageous Care Challenge] Day 4: Uncomfortable (http://lovedoesthat.org/22)
- Episode 25: What is Spiritual Direction, Do I Need It, and Other Frequently Asked Questions (http://lovedoesthat.org/25)
Friend, I’d love to encourage you as you encourage others. Here are two ways to get started:
1. SHOP ENCOURAGEMENT + SYMPATHY GIFTS
These are prayerfully-crafted gifts you can share with those you love as tangible expressions of care. Let your friend know she is not alone.
2. SCHEDULE A SPIRITUAL DIRECTION DISCERNMENT CALL
Interested in spiritual direction? Schedule a complimentary Discernment Call where we’ll talk about what’s weighing on your heart and identify next steps you can take to discern God’s direction.