The sad truth is that some people really do want other people to be weak. And believe it or not it is something that can be seen in a number of environments including the church.
Why would someone want someone else to be weak?
They want people to keep on receiving or taking what they are giving out. It could be that they are giving out ideas aka teaching or preaching. It could be that they are giving out other things. There are some preachers and teachers who encourage people to follow them by saying you need help. They then keep people following them by saying you need our help because you cannot do this for yourself. You can only have these benefits if you stay part of my flock so you cannot leave . Talk about feeding the shepherd rather than the sheep.
Even sellers want people to be weak. Why do you think they play on people’s weaknesses by putting the things that people easily succumb to near the door or near the till. Think of the shops that put the chocolate near the door or near the till.
Walk into some some shops and the first aisle that you have to go along is simply chocolate, sweets and biscuits. It is only when you walked along that unavoidable section that displays large amounts of the sweet sugary stuff that you are discouraged from eating that you find the real food like milk and bread. You cannot get around it because of the way the shop is designed the only way into the shop is past all that temptation.
Some people would call that evil. If it was alcohol or tobacco products they would not be allowed to do that as they are known drugs that are controlled to some extent. They can display items that some find addictive because of the sugar or chocolate content anywhere they like. So of course they display them in places where they think more people will buy them. They are literally preying on the weak and vulnerable in their quest to make money.
How do you strengthen the weak?
It depends on the weakness. Education is one way. People can then improve their literacy and numeracy skills which then makes it easier to find and keep a job. Counselling, and personal development are part of God’s restoration projects for individuals. Another part is prayer based counselling and the inner healing that comes from that.
It is actually quite hard to separate all these things because for someone to start learning to read they need to be helped over the barriers that made it hard for them to read earlier in life. Things like it being drilled into them that it would be a waste of time teaching someone like them to read. Or that they are a loser because the teachers at school did not know the best strategies for helping people who face particular challenges like dyslexia or partial deafness or worse both together.
I once met someone who faced the challenge of both dyslexia and partial deafness. No one realised that she was challenged by either of these things until well into adult life so in her words she was educated as an imbecile. It took 30 years for someone to realise that an ear infection as a baby had left her partially deaf. She then started to wear a hearing aid which made it easier to respond to what people were saying to her. When she was in her 60s the challenges she faced due to dyslexia were finally recognised. She could then start learning to do things that most of us take for granted like read signs in shops and do basic arithmetic.
Do people really want others to be weak?
Some do for financial gain. Others though want to help others but don’t do it in a way that strengthens them. The hearing aid shop would soon go out of business if no one was struggling with their hearing. For them it is a fine line between meeting a need and making money. If the need was not there for them to meet then they would not make money from meeting that need. Colleges and training centres face the same conundrum. If no one had a need then no one would come to them for help.
It is really easy to follow the standard marketing tactic of persuading people that they have a need and that you are the only one who can fill that need. What happens then is that those who are weak keep on buying things. This is the root cause of shiny object syndrome. This is quite an expensive condition among aspiring business owners. They hear someone say you are struggling because you need this product or you need my set of instructions then you will have what you need to be a success. The seller knows that the buyer is weak so like person selling chocolate or sweet sugary things they do what they can to attract the attention of those who are struggling. Some people spend huge amounts of money chasing after the right product or the right coach to help them break through into a successful business. This is a major reason why parts of the online world have gained such a bad reputation. There are quite a few big fish who have not just survived but grown big by eating the little fish and few little fish survive long enough to become big fish.
It all depends on why people are actually doing what they do. If they are doing it from the motive of serving others and improving their lives then they should be rewarded appropriately for the help that they give others.If they are doing whatever it is simply to make money and money as the primary goal then that is a different matter.
There are people who do want others to be weak because it helps them make more money. Their love of money is so strong that they will do things that hurt other people. They are the ones who make a determined effort to sell things that hinder rather than help people such as chocolate.
Some people want others to be weak so that they can be seen as their helper or the one who saved them from difficult circumstances. These are the people who build themselves up by saying they are better than others. They struggle so much with their own shame or fears that they cover them up by making others feel that they should always defer to their choices and expectations. They have to be right and if they are right then by definition others have to be wrong. Their way is best and it does not matter what others say their ideas have to override the ideas of others. In that situation it is the helper who needs help as much as the person they are trying to help.
It is amazing how many old well-designed systems have been destroyed by people who have come in and said that is wrong we know better than you do, you have to do it our way. For example, people mourn the communities that disappeared when poor quality housing was replaced by better housing. That so-called better housing had its own set of problems. Problems that were harder to deal with as the benefits of being part of a community had been lost. There can be a fine line between helping people for the right and the wrong reasons. It is easy for people to misunderstand our motives and to be honest I am not sure whether we even know our own motives at times.
How can you make the weak strong rather than weakening them further?
First step is recognising that it is actually possible to weaken them further. Too many of us simply do not realise that this is a possibility. We rush in and do things for people forgetting that leaves them less capable of doing things for themselves.
I had an interesting conversation with a professional carer. They had started working with someone who came to them unable to do much other than sit in a chair while other people cleaned the house, did the gardening. Yes they needed a carer because they had a variety of weaknesses but the carers also realised that there were things that they could do. They saw the role of the carer as helping people do as much as they could for themselves so started to teach them how to do things around the house and garden like mopping the floor, Their intention was to strengthen the person they were caring so that they could have a sense of achievement because they had done things for themselves. It took time and patience but eventually the professional carers who were working with this person strengthened them enough to do a range of things for themselves. Not everything but they could do something.
It is not easy strengthening others. It is something that I struggle with time after time. I am aware that I take over situations rather than draw others into situations so that they can fulfill their potential. Doing things for people makes us feel good while others feel less able. I do try to encourage others to go forwards but then I am fearful that it sounds as though I am do this from a position of strength.
I am still learning in this area although I am conscious that one of my weaknesses is my ability to weaken others further. It is not easy but at least being aware of it means that I can do something to reduce the impact. You see if I really wanted people to be strong and able to do things for themselves then I would do some things quite differently and in such a way that I met their needs rather than just mine.
What do you think about this? Do you have anything to add to this discussion?