There are three approaches I can take as I am faced with human need. Only one of the approaches allows me to feel satisfied with my performance while at the same time, giving me the capacity to lead an enjoyable, complete life.
The first strategy I can use is to ignore human need. If I do that, I will die spiritually.
The second strategy is to face human need on the basis of human need. If I do that, I will die physically and spiritually. This second strategy is the way I have lived most of my life.
The third strategy is to live according to the 11th step. The 11th step tells me I have the right to ask God for his will for my life. Asking God for knowledge of his will seems like a huge privilege to me.
If I face human need according to the will of God several things become true:
1. I only have to help the specific people God directs me to help. I will see many other people with compelling needs, but I will have no responsibilities toward them.
2. My efforts to help someone have a far better chance of succeeding, if I am helping the person because God has asked me to help them. If I am trying to help them just because they need help, too many times my attempts to help have only made their life worse.
3. My life will be greatly enhanced by the helping experience. When I helped others according to the cruel dictates of my needy, insecure personality, my health and quality of life were frequently damaged. On the other hand, only helping the people God assigns to me leaves me plenty of time and energy to live a responsible, enjoyable life.
4. Living according to God’s will avoids the situation where I am really not trying to help the other person. What I am actually trying to do is to ease my sense of inferiority at the expense of the other person’s need.
5. I do not expect to do God’s will perfectly. In fact, finding and carrying out God’s will 70% of the time is my goal. I think doing the right thing 70% of the time would make me a pretty good man.
6. If my goal is to do God’s will, the times I don’t get it exactly right, work out just fine. I have a personal saying, “My humanness is in my contract with my Higher Power.”
There is a charming story in the gospels. Jesus has come to the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha is exhausting herself with her legitimate responsibilities as a hostess. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, busily learning the things that only he could teach.
Jesus, who was the hottest subject of conversation in their town because of his wisdom and power, had no reluctance about teaching a woman. Mary was not going to miss this chance to learn at the feet of the greatest master she would ever meet.
Martha on the other hand was preoccupied with getting the necessary work done. Jesus acknowledges her hard work and was certainly grateful for what she was doing.
When Martha got Jesus attention, she complained about what she perceived as Mary’s laziness. Martha wanted Jesus to tell Mary to come help her. Instead, he told her that Mary had made the better choice.
Then he made a remark to Martha that instructs me. He said “One thing is needful.” What one thing was needful? Listening to the Son of God was the one needful thing.
If my life is very full, and I feel I have one hundred things to do with the same minute, it helps me to remember that only one thing is needful. I can safely pause to listen to God speak. Then I can do the one thing God is saying to do and leave the other ninety nine to the care of God.
God never asks me to do two things with the same moment. All I need to do is to ask God for knowledge of his will in terms of what to do next and the power to carry that next thing out. I can give that one thing my entire attention. Everything else that concerns me is best dealt with, at that moment, by turning it over to God.
I may be concerned about house repairs, my kids and grandkids, program friends, phone calls, writing bills and so on. What I need to do is the one thing God is telling me to do at that time. God will handle everything else.Some program people call that one thing the next indicated thing.
When I was at the mission, I was faced with literally overwhelming human need. If I lived my day by seeking and doing the one thing I had to do next, I could go to bed that night and sleep. I did not need to feel guilty about all the people less fortunate than I, that I did not help. They were not my job. I had done my job and now I could rest.
In my experience, God is highly organized if I do things his way, in his order; I am astounded by how much serenity I enjoy, and by how much work I get done.