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We have a relative who is a substance abuser and does not listen to us when we speak into her life. Recently she has come to us for help. I’m not sure if she is a Christian, though she attends a local church. At best, our relationship has been adversarial through the years. With Thanksgiving coming, we will be meeting with her again. And she will be asking for a handout, which is the typical pattern.
What is your advice for this person? We want to care for her, but she is typically angry with us unless she wants something. Any help with our relative would be appreciated.
Customize this podcast to your unique situation – What I’m about to give you is not a one size fits all process. These are tips you will have to customize to your situation as you,
#1 – Prepare Your Heart: Guard your heart against unmet expectations. You are hurt. You must adjust your heart before you confront your relative. What is your affection level for her? Never confront anyone with whom do not have affection. You may not have pure love for her, but you must have more affection than frustration.
#2 – Find Your Starting Point: Is she saved? I’m not asking if she says she is born again but if she manifests the authentic fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Step back and observe the fruit in her life. What do you see? You must know where to begin with her, not where she says she is or where you wish she were.
#3 – Know the Dividing Line: Don’t confuse being a relative as the main thing as far as how you relate to her. The only dividing line that matters is always those who do God’s will and those who don’t. Being a relative will cloud your judgment, but if you see her as doing God’s will or not, regardless of blood kin, then you’ll know how to respond to her.
#4 – Look For Clues: Look at the fruit in her life. Is she characterized by some of these things: anxiety, worry, bitterness, criticalness, gossip, anger, cynicism, substance abuse, time and money waster, no vision or passion, and hopelessness? Or is she characterized by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? This approach is not judging her; it’s discerning the kind of person who is looking for help.
#5 – Determine Spiritual Influences: Does she belong to a local church and what kind of church is it? How is this church engaging her, helping her? Is there anyone else helping her? Who speaks into her life? Who is she submitted to? Who are the primary influencers in her life?
#6 – What Helps Best: Will you practically help her or are you feeding an addict? Sometimes you want to help even though you know getting her through a hard spot is not going to make her a better person. You have three choices here:
#7 – Pattern or Episode: Distinguish between a pattern of living versus an episode. What characterizes her? Is she always a problem person or is this a unique, rarely repeated situation, that she finds herself. If it’s a pattern of living, then you’re probably going to have to confront her.
#8 – Pray For Her End: Ask the Father to bring her to the end of herself. Like the prodigal son, your best hope is if she face plants in the hog lot of her life, which could bring her to her senses. Read Luke 15:17.
#9 – Talk With a Friend: Find someone who will confront you about any wrong attitudes you may have. This friend must also help you to work through any false sense of guilt. You don’t need a “rubber stamping” friend who will not look you in the eye and speak into these things.
#10 – Plan to Confront Rer: Based on what you’ve said, you’re probably going to have a come to Jesus meeting with her. If you do this, here are four things to keep in mind:
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).