A few years ago I took some kids I was mentoring to a Young Life camp called Creekside but there was one guy in particular, who caught my attention. He was a popular, good looking guy, who always knew what to say. He would quote stuff from the Bible when he was around me, but when I wasn’t around, his lingo was anything but wholesome. There was a duality to his life that was all too familiar.
I was a kid who went to church, but my involvement was superficial. I also carried a lot of pain and wanted to win peoples approval which led to looking for comfort in all the wrong places. That mix created a lot of shame, which didn’t help me get to where I wanted to go any faster. It wasn’t until years later I realized God doesn’t fault us for having needs or pain, He just doesn’t want us going to things that are destructive to get it nourished. I have learned through my own journey that anytime there is duality in our lives, self-esteem gets robbed. When self-esteem gets robbed, it always drives us towards deeper darkness.
While walking around with this young man who was a master at looking the part, I began to ask him questions. I asked him things like, “Do you feel like you can be your true self around everyone?” His response of course was, “NO.”
“Do you think if you act a certain way, people will like you more?” He responded, “YES.”
“What need are you trying to get met by trying to be exactly what people want you to be?” He responded, “I just really want people to like me.”
BOOM. Instead of shaming him, I was able to ask him some thoughtful questions, where he came to the realization of his need to be accepted. After he told me how badly he wanted to be liked, I was able to follow up with how much God loved him, and wants to satisfy those needs. How He wants to develop in him a deep sense of esteem and value, to help him love himself the way that God loves him.
So the next time you see a friend making decisions that may hurt them, here are the five steps to take.
- Make sure they know, without a shadow of a doubt, you are on their team and you love them.
- Create a shame free zone, full of empathy and kindness
- Ask questions which lead them to their own conclusion.
- Ask which needs they are trying to get met.
- Finally, tell them how much you and God love them.
Here’s to loving the process