The Spiritual Enabler

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The Spiritual Enabler

In recent years, the terms “co-dependent” and “enabler” have become quite popular in dealing with people who are in dysfunctional relationships.  These ideas have infiltrated the church.

For instance, we may fail to obey the Lord when He tells us to step down from a place of ministry.  After all, if we step down, who will fill our shoes?  The church needs us!  We are spiritually co-dependent when we think God cannot find someone else to fill that place of ministry.

I went through a situation where a lady kept seeking me for advice.  I spent a great deal of time talking with her on several occasions.  I gave her clear-cut, scriptural guidelines.  Yet, she refused to make the necessary changes.  By allowing her to monopolize my time, I was enabling her – enabling her to take time away from my family and my priorities, not to mention enabling her to drain me emotionally, physically, and mentally.

I have seen a situation in church where a lady lies continually.  Several people refuse to confront her lying ways.  Doing so enables her to continue in her sin, whereas, loving confrontation may lead her to repent for her sins.

I think women fall into this trap too often because we have such a hard time saying “no” when we are asked to do something.  Keep in mind that when we refuse to say “no,” sometimes we hinder God’s plan for someone else.  Perhaps what we just agreed to do was really a job God had planned for someone else.  Yet, we just got in His way.

Is there someone who seems to be drawn to you like a magnet, constantly needing spiritual advice?  Perhaps they discern you are a person of the Word, so they seek you instead of the Word because they are too lazy to seek God on their own.  By letting them continue in their behavior, we become enablers.  We may also be co-dependent; for we may love the way they make us feel when they seek our wisdom.  Often, one feeds the other.  We enable the behavior because it makes us feel good to be needed.

David asked the Lord to search his heart.  I think it is wise to ask the Lord to also search our relationships.  Perhaps we will discover that we have become spiritual enablers.

Have you fallen into the trap of being an enabler?

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

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Spiritually Used

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Spiritually Used

It is a noble thing for a woman to desire to model Titus 2:3-5.  However, because a woman has a passion to minister to other women, she can easily fall prey to the tactics of a user.  Women who are timid find it difficult to say “no” to a user.  Women with strong personalities often find pleasure in being asked to share their opinions.

I met a lady whom I will call Betty.  We hit it off very well, seeming to share the same values.  We forged a friendship, attending some of the same classes, and even visiting each other on occasion.

I began to notice a pattern to our conversations.  They seemed to revolve around the happenings in her life.  She was constantly seeking my advice.  When I would respond with scripture, she would quickly affirm my insights with comments like, “Oh, that is good,” or “I never thought of it like that.”  Because I thrive on words of affirmation, I never seemed to notice that she rarely brought scripture into our conversations.

Several months later, Betty was faced with a difficult dilemma.  Because of my desire to help women, I spent a great deal of time counseling her with a scriptural approach to her situation.  A few times I even left messages for her, stating that I had some more information which she may find helpful.  Those calls were always quickly returned.  Yet on other occasions, she would rarely, if ever, return my calls.

One evening, I was quite stressed and in despair over a situation of my own.  I knew Betty had faced this very circumstance, so I decided to call her.  I left a message for her, leaving no doubt as to my frame of mind.  I knew I could count on her to help me.  After all, Betty was my friend.  However, she never returned my phone call.

As I pondered and prayed about this, I realized that I was not being unreasonable in feeling that I deserved a return phone call, for true friends are kind to each other. (Job 6:14)

I also came upon the realization that some people are only friends with us if we give them gifts. (Proverbs 19:6) I had poured myself into Betty’s life, yet was not getting anything in return.  I discerned that what Betty was doing was using me.  She was seeking the spiritual food which I had earnestly sought so she would not have to be diligent in the Word herself.

By trying to be a Titus 2 woman, I had ended up becoming spiritually used, allowing her to use up my time, my energy, and my spiritual food.

The Word tells us that faithful friendships are refreshing. (Proverbs 27:9) A true friend sticks by you in good times and bad times. (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24)  Real friends are like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)  If you cannot say this is true of your friendships, perhaps you have also been spiritually used.

Take some time to evaluate your friendships.  Have you been spiritually used?

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

User Friendly

User Friendly

In today’s society of high-tech gadgets, we often hear the term “user-friendly.”  That is a good thing for those who, like me, are technically-challenged.  Yet, it is not so good when applied in a spiritual sense.

When we are user-friendly, we are like a magnet which attracts users.  If we are not careful, we will be like a used-up box of cereal – empty.

To avoid this, pick up the Book that is user-friendly – the Bible.  We need wisdom to help us be friendly and kind, yet not fall prey to being used.  Our Bible is filled with wise words which will help us avoid becoming user-friendly.
© 2008, Stacy R Miller

Merciful Mess

Merciful Mess

I love sharing personal lessons from my life in hopes that others can learn from my mistakes.  To me, it is a way to redeem those painful experiences, making all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).  The story I share here was a huge “life lesson” to me.  I gained much wisdom in regard to friendships after having gone through this experience.

Several years ago, a lady started attending our church.  I kept hearing from other people how fast she was growing in the Lord, how awesome she was, and how on fire for the Lord she was.  I thought, “I ought to befriend this gal.  She sounds really neat!”  That was my first mistake.  I took someone else’s word on this person, rather than seeking God’s will on whether or not I should befriend her.

It turns out that this gal was into witchcraft.  She was using her wiles and all kinds of manipulation on everyone in the church.  She caused division in the church and basically destroyed our deliverance ministry.  Had I not gotten wise to her devices, I think she would have destroyed my marriage with her lies.

Shortly after I cut off this unhealthy friendship, I read in Proverbs 12:26 where a righteous person is cautious in friendship.  I also saw in the next chapter where a person who walks with the wise becomes wise, but if you are a companion of fools, you will suffer harm.  I can not begin to tell you how much I wish I had known these verses before I met this woman.  I suffered MUCH harm because I was not cautious in friendship.

We live in a world where people need mercy.  For those who truly have a God-given gift of showing mercy to others, it can leave us vulnerable to being used or manipulated by others if we fail to counter mercy with discernment.  I encountered this with the woman who was attending our church.  While I was trying to show mercy to her, I was doing it on the say-so of other people.  What I ended up making was a merciful mess because God had not called me to show mercy to this woman.

Many times, I think those who operate freely in the gift of mercy may feel like they need to befriend everybody they meet.  Since we are to be cautious in friendship, it is clearly not God’s will for us to be close friends with every single person we meet.  We need to discern whom God wants us to have for our close friends.

When we choose to base our friendships on God’s principles, it might stir up controversy from those who don’t live by these principles.  We may be accused of being judgmental, when in fact, we are simply being cautious in friendship.  There is a huge difference between the two.  Since bad company corrupts good character, we should earnestly desire God’s will in our friendships (First Corinthians 15:33).

Are you making a merciful mess in any of your friendships?
© Stacy R. Miller