Leaders in the RU Recovery Program often experience students who “hit a wall”. The Bible refers to it as a “besetting sin”. The apostle Paul discovered this law of indwelling sin which eventually drags you down into it. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, realized all his own mighty efforts were futile. As soon as he saw sin as a law, not just an influence, he immediately conceded that to will against it was useless. I have seen students “will” against a particular sin, only to have it trample them time and time again.
You can fall on your knees and pray and ask God to give you strength to overcome, then get up from your knees and do the same sin again (it may be a little while), because no amount of, no matter how strong, can overcome the law of indwelling sin.
A simple outline for you to consider for Romans 7 would be…
I. HIS DETERMINATION (7:15-16)
II. HIS DEFEAT (7:17-23)
III. HIS DELIVERANCE (7:24 -8:2)
My desire today is to give you some guidelines in helping people long term. If we lose patience, or demonstrate harshness, strife, or are unwillingness to teach, we will not be around to offer them the instruction and teaching that God has instructed us to be willing and ready to give (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
1. Plan a time to talk with them.
Make that time somewhat just focused on them. Look them in the eye. Ask if you can meet them before or after a service. Meet them after class on Friday if you sense they are struggling. God uses servants of the Lord to help people out of the snare.
2. Let them talk first.
Let them tell you how they are doing? If they mention failure, get them to tell you how failure has affected them spiritually? Emotionally? Relationally? Give them plenty of time to talk in out. Give them plenty of time to catch up with the entire experience with words. Do not look for details. Look for root issues. Listen for triggers that may be directly attached to the besetting sin. Often, triggers attach through our senses; sight, sound, touch, hearing, or taste. Sometimes it can be a relationship, such as a weak relationship or temptations of a friend. I encourage you to get the book from RU on Recovery Without Relapse. This is a great resource to read and talk through with the student.
3. Ask how you might challenge them?
What is the best way for me to hold you accountable? This might be a good question to ask. Often accountability needs to be in the area of meditation. The last issue (Jan-Mar 2014) of the Victorious Life Messenger (VLM) was dedicated to proper meditations. If you have not read and digested the teaching of those articles, I recommend that you do it soon. It is important for us to challenge people to prepare their meditations. Meditations need to include an awareness of God in the person who struggles in order to give assurance He loves them and lives within them. This focus on God’s love and His spirit dwelling in the believer to comfort, convince, and guide into all truth is absolutely integral to overcoming an addiction and just trading them for “other” strongholds (John 15–16).
4. Praise them for slight accomplishments.
Look for forward progress and make a big deal out of it. The tool of praise is a powerful one. Use it often. Use it properly. Do not offer flattery, but use true praise in the efforts of the individual moving forward in areas that biblically define how and what the Holy Spirit produces in a persons life.
5. Look for preventive steps to implement into the persons life.
I suggest that you identify when the temptations occur in a persons life. Often temptations can be avoided by proper schedule. You can overcome evil with good. Encourage the student to get a planner and tract the scheduled events in their lives. When will they get up? When will they go to bed? When will they engage in devotions? What church services will they attend? Have them mark “missed” opportunities or failures, and temptations so you can discuss in your future meetings.
6. Access the power of positive motivation.
The Bible speaks of reward. Instead of only focusing on what a person has to loose through continued sin and failure, focus on what God can and may do with a clean vessel. The tragedy of a life that seems shipwrecked is not what it is doing, but what it is not doing.
7. Access the pain of negative motivation.
It is important for them to identify the consequences (both currently and long term) if they choose to continue down a path marked with danger.
8. Recognize when others are needed.
Do not do it all alone. There is a time when professional help is needed. Let me explain some examples with you.
If a person is addicted to cutting, inform the offender that professional help may be needed. It is a dangerous discovery when you have cut too deep. It only takes once.
If they are addicted to prescribed medication, we never tell a student to “get off” of prescription medication. If a doctor placed them on a drug, you need the professional help of a doctor to help get them weaned off. DO NOT INSTIGATE OR COMMUNICATE TO A PERSON ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP. If their doctor will not help, find one that will. If you can go with them to the doctor, do so. If they choose on their own to remove themselves, continue to work with them, but do not counsel or advise them to do so.
If a person is suicidal, make sure you bring in family and loved ones who know that person better than you. I would also tell them beyond the spiritual help you offer, professional may be in line and you leave that decision to the one you are trying to help and their family or close friend.
Beyond professional help, you may need your Pastor’s help. Often it is appropriate to get the RU Director or the Pastor involved in helping in certain situations beyond your experience and education. Staying within your proper chain of authority can be both protective and productive. I have often heard my wife tell a student after the matter was weightier than what she alone should handle that they should go together and talk to the director about this situation. My wife has gained a greater confidence from students and has seen greater consistency in those she helps as she was willing to get help from others on weightier matters.
If you hear of sexual abuse, it is required that you navigate through that accusation or confession with both pastoral and professional help (law enforcement). Please do not try to handle alone. This is something that is serious and has serious consequences if not properly handled.
A servant of the Lord can rejoice in watching the only Savior, Jesus Christ, deliver people with a desire to be free. Let the Holy Spirit do the work. You exhibit (bear) fruit, fruit that confirms love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and do not forget meekness. It is the one that Galatians 6 refers to has important in helping others be restored. Give credit to the Savior for producing fruit and righteousness in your life. Stay humble and allow all the other fruits to flourish.