Hurricane Florence has begun pounding the East coast. If you’re wondering how you can help, the best place to start isn’t an immediate action, but an attitude of humility.
Scripture is clear that humility is essential to service. Jesus instructs his disciples, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). He also preaches it publicly, saying, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt. 23:11-12).
Swooping in to volunteer for the wrong reasons—like wanting to be a hero—is more likely to cause harm than help. It’s humble hearts and hands that will save the day. Humility will help you be more other-oriented and more open to hearing what sort of help survivors actually need.
Below are five biblically and research-supported steps you can take to ensure you are helping with humility on the ground or from afar.
Know your motivation for wanting to help.
Maybe your faith is compelling you to take action. Perhaps you feel moved by the devastating images filling your social media accounts. Compassion might be the driving force behind your altruism. These are all good reasons to help—and we hope you do.
But it’s possible to get involved with helping after a disaster for the wrong reasons. As disaster psychology researchers, we see this over and over again. Some people have what you might call a hero complex. They help not to meet the needs of others, but to meet their own needs.
They are often driven by external motivations, like getting “in on the action.” Other people want to be known as a do-gooder. Others might struggle with anxiety about what happened, and want to do something to alleviate their own negative feelings. If this describes you or someone you know, here’s what we’d advise: Leave the cape at home before leaping into action.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
A humble person is able to see and accept their strengths and weaknesses clearly. When your sense of self is not tied to external factors like affirmation or recognition, you can view criticism as an opportunity to grow rather than as a threat to your identity. You can comfortably defer and delegate to people who are better equipped for a task or decision.
Researchers have theorized that humility is an important prerequisite to grow and develop expertise—because it allows you to (a) seek out and incorporate feedback, and (b) engage in deliberate practice. Deliberate practice focuses not on what you already do well, but is designed to help you improve by focusing on skills that push the edges of your current abilities.
Biblical humility recognizes that God is God and we are not—any good we can do is made possible only through him (Phil. 2:5-11). This truth allows us to see ourselves as we truly are without fear of admitting faults or weaknesses.
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Source: Christianity Today