In leadership, we should want to help other people. We should desire to help employees, customers, (in my case) church members, and everyday folks we come in contact with. The issue constantly faces us with the “how” in helping other people.
This may be a crude comparison to some but I am going to use it anyway because I think it will help us take our eyes off of people and see the heart for a minute. Think about a stray dog. Have you ever had compassion on a stray puppy before? It is cold outside and it begins to rain. You see the ribs of this malnourished, helpless little guy and your heart just melts. You are overcome with a righteous indignation to do something for this pup! He needs you!
So, what is the answer for this puppy? How can you best help him? Well, to truly help him you have to assess his needs and your capacity. Both need to be considered or you and the dog will be in bad shape before this is all over. You should look at the puppy’s needs and assess: Does he need food? Does he need to be reunited to past relationships that he once had and he is just lost? Is his greatest need medical care because he looks like he has a disease? In this moment there are so many things you can try to provide and you have to assess what your role is. Then you have to assess your capacity: “I have two dogs and two kids already, do I have room for another?” “If this dog is sick, will he make my other dogs sick? Is me providing food for him something I can do or will it create a co-dependent relationship and keep him lost?” “Do I need professional help for this puppy because I honestly can’t give him what he needs but I can connect him to those that can help?” “Do I have time to give him the attention he needs or will my primary role as a parent and a dog owner of two others be compromised?”
You get it right? Sometimes we can be cruel and not even care about the puppy. Sometimes we think he is someone else’s problem. Sometimes we think the puppy shouldn’t have been so dumb to get into this situation and it is his problem to fix; but he is a puppy! He can’t figure this out and he may need your help.
There is no black and white when it comes to dealing with people and helping them grow. Sometimes you can do something to help someone get along and help them grow stronger by providing a temporary act of kindness. Sometimes the help is something that they need that you simply aren’t equipped to provide nor have the margin to help with. You can hurt for the need and sympathize but, at the end of the day, you need to assess if your involvement with a person that is wounded will be helpful or will it be harmful to you and eventually them. You can only help people from your lowest point of health. Once you dip below that point, you are a sick person trying to help another sick person. You know what happens in this scenario? You both stay sick and no one gets better. Actually, you increase your chance of making even more people sick. Some of the best intentioned people are spreading disease when they think they are helping. Even the airlines get this when they tell us, “put on your mask first and then help other people”.
Your heart is great and you should always lead from the heart but make sure you are healthy. Assess what you can do and what will best serve the other person. You aren’t everyone’s savior here. You can play a role but what that role is will be determined by the level of maturity you exercise when your heart strings are tugged.