Sep 162013 9 Responses

Never Give Up on People

The only thing we know is that we don’t know.

We don’t know people’s hearts. We don’t know their potential. And we don’t know what they might do.

Every time I think I have someone figured out, they surprise me.

Sometimes this is bad news.

  • The person that I think could never fail, fails.
  • The confidant who I think could never betray, betrays.
  • The friend who I think will always be there, isn’t there.

I know people fail because I fail people. Others are no different than me.

Yet people can also surprise me in very good ways.

  • The addict finally comes clean in his 11th rehab.
  • The marriage finally experiences a breakthrough.
  • The rebellious child finally settles down and grows up.

As disillusioning as people’s bad actions can be, there is nothing more inspiring than someone who begins to make consistently good decisions.

We should never give up on people:

1. Because they can always surprise us. The moment we think we have someone figured out, they will often do the opposite of what we expect.

2. Because we never want others to give up on us. No matter what we do, we do not want others to stop believing in us.

Over a decade in the pastorate has taught me to never give up on someone.

This doesn’t mean I blindly trust everyone with whom I interact. It doesn’t mean I give unending opportunities to people and allow them to continually disappoint me.

It’s possible not to give up on someone but still:

Establish proper boundaries. Some people don’t deserve my trust. They have failed to earn it and I will not give it easily.

Ensure you aren’t enabling. I can believe in someone but not pay their bills. I can hope for someone to make a wise decision while allowing them to experience the consequences of their decision making. Often times the first step to another’s good decision is for me to stop enabling their bad decisions.

Feel freedom to break-off the relationship until they choose differently. I don’t think the father of the Prodigal Son ever gave up on him, but the father didn’t chase his son to the pig farm. He let him go. He allowed the relationship to be broken without giving up on his son. Just because I refuse to be involved with someone who—is an active addict, refuses to take responsibly for themselves, cannot play an active role in a healthy relationship—does not mean I have given up on them. I still hope for the best, but I will not engage their current lifestyle.

Protect myself and my family. I can hope the best for someone but still take measures to protect myself or my family. I can still have hope for the addict while refusing to allow them to be in the presence of my children. I can expect the best from a former thief while not giving them unattended access to my belongings. Taking appropriate action for my responsibilities is not giving up on others.

Even as I do these things, I can still believe, hope for, and expect the best regarding others.

Nothing should surprise us.

Five years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev confessed he was a Christian. Upon hearing about it, my first thought went to the moment he dies and shows up in heaven. Imagine the shock of so many Americans who died in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The last person they would’ve ever expected in heaven was the leader of Soviet Russia. Yet the amazing thing about grace is that it is powerful enough to cover anyone’s sins.

It is the Christian story that we should never give up on anyone because God never gave up on us.

Because of this:

I will always pray for someone no matter the circumstances.

I will always communicate the truth if they seek it.

I will always be open to assisting someone if they will take the steps necessary to heal.

It’s true of us and it’s true for others–never give up on people.

9 Responses to Never Give Up on People
  1. […] They think it is dead, but I wonder if it’s dormant. (This is why we should never give up on p...
  2. […] Because of this, major mistakes are made and second, third, and fourth chances need to be given. We ...
  3. […] What causes some to keep going when others are giving up? (See: Never Give Up on People) […]...

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