Efforts of control or efforts of compassion?

By Dave Henning / March 11, 2021

“I want them (friends, co-workers, family members) saved, but I am not their Savior. . . .  They need Jesus.  They need self-control.  So I shift from efforts of control to efforts of compassion.  Compassion lets me love the person, empathize with their pain, and acknowledge their side of things, even if I don’t agree with them.   And it still allows me to speak into a situation.”- Lysa TerKeurst

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”- Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Lysa TerKeurst concludes Chapter 9 of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget as she keenly observes what happens the more you keep jumping on the tracks to rescue people.  It’s more likely that the train runs over you both.  Thus, weeping and rejoicing with loved ones doesn’t equate with trying to take control of their out-of-control choices and behaviors.  Although you can forgive them, you cannot control or enable them.

Furthermore, Lysa’s counselor, Jim Cress, advises that you enable someone when you:

  • work harder on their issues than they do
  • cosign their unhealthy behaviors through defending them, looking the other way, or covering for them
  • allow them to violate your boundaries without any consequences
  • blame other people or situations for their unhealthy or irresponsible behavior

Above all, while other people’s actions affect us, we’re not held accountable for those actions.  However, we are held accountable for our actions and reactions.

In conclusion, Lysa connects boundaries, compassion, and forgiveness.  She writes:

“Compassion is the key to forgiveness.  As long as you are trying to control a person, you can’t truly forgive them.  Part of this is because . . . without boundaries their continued poor choices will bankrupt your spiritual capacity for continued compassion . . . .

Boundaries aren’t to push others away.  They are to hold me together. . . .  And boundaries are 100 percent my choice, not theirs.  Therefore, a much healthier place to exert my energy is with choices I can make to stay healthy while still staying available to offer as much compassion as my spiritual capacity will allow.”

Today’s question: Do you tend to lean more toward efforts of control or compassion?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Promise on standby – or life support?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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