Am I Enabling Someone I Love?


Are you offering the wrong kind of help to your loved ones?

One of the most common problems I see in Christians today is confusion about how to help a loved one who has a problem. Offering the wrong kind of help, they end up feeding the problem-and working against what God is trying to do in the life of their loved one. Every day we get calls and letters from people asking – how can we help our son or daughter or grandchild who is using drugs, running with the wrong friends, rebelling against their parents?

Many are godly parents who have prayed and fasted for their child-yet they watch painfully as their child continues down a path of rebellion and destruction. One mother told me, “I pray for my children, but why is God so slow to answer?”

So what can parents or grandparents do to help their loved ones?

Stop enabling!

What is Enabling?
Enabling is offering the wrong kind of help. Enabling is rescuing your loved one so they don’t experience the painful consequences of their irresponsible decisions.

Enabling is anything that stands in the way of persons experiencing the natural consequences of their own behavior.

Galatians 6:7-8 speaks to Christians about this issue with simple-even blunt truth. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (NIV)

God’s word here is specific- Christians-don’t be deceived!

Your own children can deceive you when it comes to this scripture. We are willing to accept this verse when it comes to sinners living around us- but when it comes to our own children-are we willing to let God be in control?

Many parents simply cannot stand by and watch their child suffer pain from bad decisions-so they rescue them. One grandmother told me, “I can understand that my alcoholic daughter needs to experience the painful consequences of her actions-but I cannot stand to see my little grandchildren suffer- they are innocent little ones.” So she “helps” them.

At first glance it seems the loving thing to do-to help the innocent grandchildren. But do we “mock God” when we do that? Are we not getting in God’s way? There are no simple answers.

If God specifically speaks to you to reach out and offer specific help-then by all means do it! But all too often we offer help, not because God specifically spoke to us, but because we think it is the right thing to do.

Some parents want to minimize the damage in the lives of their children. The result-they become part of the deception. A father said, “I make sure my teenage daughter has a condom when she goes out on a date. I don’t want her to get AIDS.” He is deceiving himself and his daughter-and the man she is dating. Safe sex? Safe sin?

When we give anyone the impression there is a “safe way to sin,” we are mocking God. Sin always causes destruction. When we step in and rescue people from the consequences of their sin, we only push our loved one farther down the path of delusion and destruction.

Copyright © 1999, 2005 By David Batty. Used by permission.

How Do I Know If I Would Be A Good Small Group Facilitator?


Having the spirit of a servant is essential for group leaders. Small groups should not be used as a platform for building the leader’s ego. Leaders must guard against possessiveness toward group members or manipulation of those who may be spiritually weak. Christ, not the group leaders, should remain the focus. A servant’s heart can be exhibited by encouraging group members to become all God intended them to be.

Having a good attitude is essential to being an effective group leader. A bad attitude will spread among group members and destroy the purpose of the group. The leader’s life should exhibit gentleness, purity, and a loving spirit. Positive attitudes can be as contagious as negative attitudes. Submissiveness to the local church is a quality that is needed for all group leaders. Without submissiveness to each other and Christ, groups will do more harm than good. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Spiritual maturity. Group leaders should have a Bible-based foundation. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Having a good knowledge of the Scripture (see 2 Timothy 2:15) along with Bible-based common sense is extremely important. The groups should be led by individuals who are not recent converts (see 1 Timothy 3:6). To avoid possible pitfalls, group leaders should be people of proven character. “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:7). They should have strong commitment which displays reliability, faithfulness, and follow-through. Spiritual maturity, gentleness, and humility are a special combination for group leaders.

Emotional stability. Group leaders should exhibit a balanced lifestyle with confidence, however, not arrogance or overconfidence. “For God did not give us the spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Those who cannot discipline their own lives will not be effective in leading others to wholeness in Christ. Leaders should be team players, flexible, and adaptable.

Being responsible people, they should speak and work in reality, never advising group members to stop taking medication or cancel the doctor’s care. Small groups are not places to fantasize, exhibit self-punitive characteristics, or heap condemnation on people. S. Bruce Narramore notes:

A third emotion related to guilt feelings and fears of punishment is what I call constructive sorrow. Paul writes of this in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, where he reminds the Corinthians there is a difference between worldly sorrow that leads to death and godly sorrow that leads to righteousness. Constructive sorrow is a love-motivated emotion closely related to guilt feelings yet radically different. Whereas psychological guilt is a self-punitive process, constructive sorrow is a love-motivated desire to change that is rooted in concern for others. I believe a confusion of psychological guilt and constructive sorrow has often interfered with the church’s efforts at promoting wholeness and health in the body of Christ (33).

Group leaders who have overcome a life-controlling problem should understand that their purpose is to facilitate learning and growth. They should not put themselves in a position as an expert, based on personal experience. A helper who has been affected by a family member’s life-controlling problem should be aware of personal attitudes. Being intolerable to the values and lifestyles of others may prevent group members from receiving the help they need. Stephen P. Apthorp in his clergy handbook on alcohol and substance abuse notes:

If a recovering alcoholic or recovering drug abuser is selected to be the “spark plug,” it must be made clear to him that he is to be a facilitator of people, not a teacher or an expert witness by virtue of his personal experience. One of the fundamental characteristics of many a recovering person is the need to be in control and the need to control. . . . By the same token, selecting a parent whose child has been impaired by drug abuse may meet the requirements of enlisting a committed person, but in some cases the injury is such that it blocks the person’s ability to tolerate others’ attitudes, values, or lifestyles (33).

Communication skills are extremely important in small-group interaction. Whether verbally or with silence, group members are always communicating in some manner. Effective communication requires active listening and having genuine concern for each group member. Since it is easy to develop poor patterns of interacting with people, communication skills require practice.

Open-ended questions help create discussion in the group. These types of questions cause the participants to have a better understanding of themselves. Repeating the content of the group member’s message helps individuals know that they are being heard and that you are with them. When confronting is needed, care-fronting skills should always be used.

As mentioned earlier, communications are enhanced by having people sit in a circle. Having the need for eye contact, all group participants should be able to see each other. Group members who sit across from each other tend to communicate better than those who sit next to each other. Group facilitators should sit across from each other and acknowledge all contributions to the group process. No one should ever be put down for a comment that is in error.

Group leaders should guard against the temptation to dominate the discussion. It is a common temptation to answer most of the questions, to be the super Christian, or to turn the group meeting into a platform for preaching. The leaders should give direction to the group process by starting the discussion then steering the conversation according to the curriculum being used. It is best to divert conversations on controversial subjects that may cause division among group members. Although the sharing of past experiences can be interesting and in some cases valuable, the focus of the small group should be on the present in the person’s life. Since conversation on intellectual levels often results in surface discussion, it tends to kill personal sharing. There is a difference between what persons may think versus what they feel.

Material from Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do
Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Turning Point Ministries
All Rights Reserved

Small Group Facilitators: How To Handle Those Who Talk Too Much and Not Enough

Handling excessive talkers in the group. There will be some people who tend to overtalk in the group or who may wish to show off their knowledge. Some may believe they have more knowledge than the facilitator (and they may); others may like the attention. There are certain communication skills that can be used to correct this situation. Questions and answers can be directed to individuals by name. Sitting next to the overtalker may help since the facilitator receives less eye contact than the other group members. This will cause the person to be away from the focus of attention and be less likely to respond.

The facilitators should analyze themselves to see if they are communicating clearly. If the group leaders are offensive, it is possible that the overtalker may see the need to take charge. It may be necessary to care-front the person privately. The overtalker may have leadership potential but needs to learn to be a better listener.

Handling nonparticipants. Some people are very timid or feel they do not have anything to contribute to the group. There are those who may also have reading difficulties. Group participants should be cared for with sensitivity (working within their comfort level). There are certain communication skills that can help increase their comfort level. In all group sessions, the facilitators should remind participants that no one is expected to disclose if he or she does not want to talk. No one is forced to talk-everyone has the freedom to pass. Offering encouragement by gently directing to the shy persons questions that can be answered with ease and comfort will help them become active in the group discussion. These people should receive special attention before and after each group session. Group leaders may need to offer encouragement in private. Every answer they provide should be affirmed.