The Most Important Question To Ask Before You Help Someone

Sometimes when I am helping a person who is homeless, (or anyone for that matter) I get stuck and I am just not sure what to do. Just last week I had a call from a gentleman who was facing homelessness and he wanted us to buy him a tent and some blankets.

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As I worked through this situation with him, I had decisions to make about how we would help him.

Wanting to help him in a more substantial way, I offered him help getting to a shelter and even offered to pay for two weeks for he and his wife (that shelter charges $13 per night after the 5th night).

Have you ever gotten confused while trying to figure out how to help someone? Me too. Sometimes it can be hard to know where the line between helping and enabling is. The gentleman I mentioned above didn’t want to go to the shelter, he wanted to go camp out in the woods

With this story in mind, I want to share with you one of the questions I ask myself as I am working through these type of requests that I get.

Is there a probable positive outcome?

That one simple question can bring clarity to your decision making process. Or to put it another way, is the assistance you are considering likely to have a positive outcome for them? Will they be better off because of what you did? Will it put them closer to overcoming homelessness or simply help them to stay in it longer?

In the situation last week, he wanted to stay out in the woods in a tent instead of going to the shelter. His wife has some serious health problems and the forecast called for it to be very cold over the weekend. In a tent in the woods they would be exposed to the elements, risk being run off by the police and have a hard time with generally everything.

In other words, if  helped them set up camp in the woods, it wasn’t likely to have a positive outcome. I want to offer help that has a probable positive outcome.

I know that many homeless people despise shelters. They don’t want to be around them. But the reality is, if he would humble himself and go, there is a good chance that his life could improve. They have safe warm shelter, two meals every day, case workers, access to programs and more.

Simply put

There is never an easy answer and sometimes the complaints people have are very legitimate. Sometimes what we decide will be right and sometimes it will be wrong.

But I do believe that if you will you ask yourself this question and think it through, you can get closer to the most appropriate answer and come closer giving help that will have a positive outcome for the person in need.

Question: Have you ever had a situation that you were unsure about? Tell us about it in the comment section below, I’d love to hear your story!