Thick Skin, Soft Heart

Homeless and Others Hard to Work With on a Regular Basis
If anybody has tried to help the homeless, addicted, mentally ill, ex-prisoners, the ‘outcasts of society’, they learn very fast that it can be very challenging and can be very discouraging. The reality is that most people in general do not change much, and certainly many of the individuals listed above do not change. if they do change, many ultimately go right back into their dysfunctional lifestyle. That is certainly why many people become cold-hearted, judgmental, burned out and at times even hateful in regards to the homeless. Especially the homeless that have addictions.

To make matters worse, many who are the outcasts of society, seem to take, take, take, take. Many seem to be very ungrateful. Many seem to be very self-centered (which they truly are not because if they really cared about self they would do all they can, and receive all they could get, in regards to help to change). They can be unthankful and show little respect, especially if they are caught up in their addiction. not on their medication, or playing the same old ‘I am a victim tape’.  Honestly many times there appear to be no reward or benefit in reaching out to the homeless.

So How Can You Do It?
The question asked many times of those who work with the outcasts of society, is how can you do it. I will speak for myself-a person who has ministered to such people for over 25 years.

As a Christian the answer is God has called me to do it, so He has equipped me to do it. He has anointed me with His Holy Spirit who empowers me. Not that is the Christianize response. (Which is very true for me.) But this look at the down to earth answer.

One-Have thick skin. Don’t let what people say or do affect your spirit. Don’t let their actions get into your heat. Don’t embrace bitterness or resentment. Don’t be overly sensitive. Don’t let what others says or do dictate who you are. Let what others say or do roll off of you like water rolling off the back of a duck. Have thick skin.

Two-Have a soft heart. The outcasts of society are people. They are human beings. In spite of them they have value and worth. Why? Because they are not animals, and to be spiritual, they are created by God and He loves them and YOU and I in spite of us. He may not love what they do (many times He don’t), but He loves them as people. keep your heart pure. Allow mercy and grace to rule your life. Humble yourself instead of thinking how much better you are than ‘those people’.

Three-Never Mix Them Up. Do not get a hard heart and soft skin. You will be very mean and get wounded easily.

Four-Stop the those people mentality. The us and them mentality. Many of us have not been in their shoes, we do not have their past. If we have had a past like theirs we need to remember it is by the grace of God (luck, the stars, whatever you want to call it) that we did not make the same bad decisions.

Do Not Condone/Enable
None of the above means that the behavior of the homeless is justified. None of it means we should wink at the wrong behavior of the homeless.  None of it means we should not hold them accountable for their behavior. At times helping people requires tough love. At times it means them paying the consequences for their behavior so they want to change. (The pain of not changing becomes greater than the ‘pain’ of changing.)

None of the above means we will not get hurt by the homeless and others we have described. We will if we will if we have a soft heart.  We may even get ‘burned’ by them. There is a cost in loving people. There is a cost in recognizing the outcasts of society are human beings in spite of them.

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