Last week we spent a great deal of time talking about how we can serve others by helping to meet their physical needs. And in some of the previous posts, we took a look at the various motivational gifts that God gives to us as believers and how they are so very instrumental in our efforts of service. As a matter of fact, the gift of giving and the gift of serving are the two most used gifts when meeting physical needs. Although any of us can contribute to meeting physical needs, those with the gift of serving or giving are quite adept at this because they seemed to be more aware of the needs than those of us who don’t have either of these gifts. The physical needs of others certainly lends us the opportunity to serve but there are other needs people have that sometimes offer us the same opportunity as well. So let’s take a look at another type of needs and how we can be a part of meeting those needs too.
In addition to physical needs, many people around us have emotional needs that may be hard for us to recognize. But they are just as real and often times much more difficult to assess and address. However, people with emotional needs tend to keep them close at hand and are not willing to share them openly with someone else. A lot of times, we assume that a person’s attitude and even personality are just them being themselves’ and don’t realize they may really be a cry for help. And on our part, we are hesitant to become involved with someone who has these types of needs. First of all, we may not understand why the need is there and we don’t want to be butting into someone’s business. Helping someone who has an emotional need is a difficult task and most of us shy away from it.
Emotional needs can be embedded in bitterness, negativity, jealousy, complacency, anger, etc. and we easily pass it off as personality. But if we listen carefully, we may be able to pick up on a cause for the attitude and then be in a position to help when the opportunity arises. This is where certain other motivational spiritual gifts may come into play and be used to serve others by helping to meet emotional needs. The gift of exhortation and the gift of mercy are especially useful in these situations. People with these gifts must really understand how and when to use them. We certainly should not be involved in a situation where we are not wanted but when a person with an emotional need asks for our help we should ready and willing. A word of caution here, though. We should avoid any situation where helping to meet an emotional need may lead to a temptation or inappropriate relationship. In particular, where a man or woman is trying to help someone of the opposite sex deal with a divorce or infidelity. Obviously this could easily result in inappropriate behavior on the part of both people and makes matters worse instead of better.
I believe emotional needs are the hardest to deal with by the person with the need and anyone who is trying to help meet the need. It is risky business to be involved and should be approached with caution. However, to serve others by meeting emotional needs can be rewarding and may even be a turning point in someone’s life. Any efforts in this needs area should be bathed in prayer and should not be rushed. And should always be with the approval of the one who has the need. I have the utmost respect for those who can truly help someone else in this area but also realize that sometimes it should be left to someone who has had special training. In either case, the goal is that God gets all of the glory for any successful results.
Next week, we will discuss how we can help meet someone’s spiritual needs.