"...you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 1:7
Have you ever had someone come to you with a problem and it seemed that what they really wanted to do was to off-load that problem onto you?
They somehow seemed to think that you would or could or should fix it or solve it for them. Only that wasn't really your job because the problem was theirs, not yours.
What to do?
Here's a thought: listen, ask a clarifying question or two, and then say, "I will pray for you." (Now you have to mean that, and actually do it.) And then you say, "And I I am confident that, with God's help, you will be able to handle this. You can do it and I'll be praying for you."
This seems to me a good time for intercessory prayer. We say, "I'll pray for you." And you do. You hold that person in prayer before God. You ask God to guide and strengthen her or him in dealing with whatever nagging concern or gnarly dilemma they face. But you leave their work to them to do. You don't get drawn into taking responsibility for someone or something that isn't really your responsibility. You pray that they may be led and empowered.
Of course, for some of us, letting people do their own work and not trying to fix them is really hard. Sometimes it is hard for me. So I'd appreciate it if you would pray that I would be able to manage it.
Teach me, O God, to care, but not to care too much. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.