Guidelines for Effective Training
* When you are asked, “What do you think I should do?” Reserve your comment until you are certain that you have the complete picture.
The greatest single failure of inexperienced leaders is to jump to conclusions, saying things such as “Well, it’s obvious to me what your problem is…” or mentally thumbing through your memorized roster of Bible verses, selecting a couple which seem to have enough weight and then, bang! Hit ’em between the eyes with both of them.
But when you come down hard on someone without understanding the situation, you frustrate and even anger the person who has come to you for help. You’ll never hear those words, “What do you think I should do?” from that person again.
Simplistic solutions to complex issues offer no real help, either.
Whether you call it “the problem” and “the real problem,” or “surface problems” and “root problems,” deep intimate situations of a sensitive nature that may result in embarrassment are not easily addressed. It takes time and confidence in you for a person to be willing to talk about them.
* Be principled as you handle the confidence of people.
Nothing will hurt a relationship or destroy your credibility faster than breaking confidence with people. It adds insult to injury and bitterness to sorrow.
When a person’s life is endangered or the consequences of somebody’s actions violate the law or seriously affect the lives of other people, you have no alternative but to bring someone else into the picture.
What I recommend is that you convince the person who has come to you that you care, you are a friend, and you love the person so much that you will stand with him or her through this whole situation. Then show the person that other people are necessary to resolve the problem. You love them too much to make a mistake; therefore you are bringing into the relationship someone who is better trained to help.
Knowing that you would be willing to go with a trainee to talk to someone about a problem is often enough to help someone make the right decision and begin to work through a problem which has been pushed aside for far too long.
* Be patient with people
Habits that have been many years in the making may not be resolved in a matter of a few minutes. At the same time, however, you have the right to expect change, realizing that the Holy Spirit is the greatest agent of behavioral change the world has ever known. Jay Adams says, “Change for some people is difficult to accept. Change is difficult because change means doing something new, something unusual, something not done before. It usually means exchanging old habit patterns for new ones.” Yet growth requires change, and the fact that someone is hurting necessitates change in personal relationships or patterns of behavior. It must come. But it must come with time.
* Be Professional
You can value a relationship with someone so much that you treat the confidence he or she has placed in you in a professional manner.
Whenever you reach out to a hurting person of the opposite sex, you run the risk of emotional involvement. You can be concerned with people and at the same time keep your emotions firmly in control. Scores of individuals, though, have listened to someone pour out his or her heart, hearing how a mate had been betrayed. Then as the scalding tears came, the person reached out in a warm embrace to comfort the one being counseled. And from that high voltage emotional situation a compromised relationship developed, eventually leading to the downfall of the marriage of the person who was trying to help.
However some people whose marriages are solid do get emotionally involved in helping others, a danger which only you can evaluate. A warm handshake, direct eye contact, a hospitable cup of coffee or a coke are all ways of conveying warmth apart from physical contact.
Some folks are “huggers,” and embracing someone who is hurting is just as natural for them as it is for others to take a hand and shake it warmly. I, for one, advise a certain reluctance when it comes to embracing members of the opposite sex who have come to you for help or training. Their emotions may be volatile, and the person you embrace may wish desperately that a mate would do the same thing. When you embrace someone, even though it is in an office setting or even the warmth of your home, your action can trigger an emotional response which is not in the best interest of either of you.
Never train a member of the opposite sex when you question your ability to handle a situation.
It’s O.K. to bring your husband or wife into a training situation, especially when you are training a member of the opposite sex, by saying, “You know, Bob (your husband) has a lot of insights into how guys think and feel. What would you think about joining us for a cup of coffee Friday night, and we can all talk about this together?”
For your own safe guard against training with someone in a place where your integrity could be called into question (such as in a home with someone of the opposite sex when no one else is present, or in a hotel room). While both of you may be entirely trustworthy and your willingness to help may be completely honorable, the circumstances don’t make the situation look legitimate, something which Paul warned against (see 1 Thess. 5:22).
* Recognize Your own Limitations
You never lose the respect of someone when you say, “You know, I’d like to help you with this, but it is more than I can handle. I’d like to suggest that you see…” (and make a referral to a counselor or a physician).
Don’t play medical doctor, either. It’s dangerous as well as unethical. If someone you are working with has made a commitment to Jesus Christ, and that person has been under the care of a medical doctor who has prescribed medication, don’t say, “Now that you have found the Lord, you aren’t going to need your medicine anymore!”
* Nurture your relationship with the Person you are Training.
Your effectiveness with the person you want to help is determined to a large degree by the relationship you have with that person. Why did your trainee come to you initially? Because you are a “nice person”? You just happened to be there? He or she needs help? Possibly all three, yet the person struggling with some issue felt you could help, even if it was only be extending a sympathetic, listening ear. Often you help another person a great deal by simply listening – something perhaps no one else has done.
When you train, your relationship is especially important. Proverbs 27:6 notes, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” A loyal friend is honest. Words of leaders may hurt and even wound, as the writer of Proverbs attested, but those wounds will heal and may prevent a far greater tragedy.
If you tell someone only what he or she wants to hear, your value as a leader is diminished; on the other hand, if you are so harsh that you drive the person away, your effectiveness is finished.
It is painful for some people to face reality, especially when it doesn’t live up to their ideals. An affair falls into that category; it is a temporary, sometimes “make believe” situation which usually terminates in heartache and suffering.
If you are training with a couple, you strive to be neutral and objective; yet when issues of right and wrong are at stake, the offending person may feel that you as a leader have “ganged up” with the offended party. It is important that you make the one you are trying to help feel accepted as a person though you may reject his or her behavior. How is this done?
Relationships that are built on the foundation of respect, trust, and genuine cordiality form bonds that enable you to keep the lines of communication open when the going gets sticky. Your character and integrity give you status and respect in the eyes of other people. Though you may not have thought of yourself in this light, people think of you as “having your act together,” meaning they think you can help them get their act together as well.
Before a person runs the risk of becoming vulnerable by telling you where he is hurting, he or she usually asks three questions: Can this person help me? Does he or she care about me? Does this person know what he or she is talking about?
The last question (a matter of knowledge) doesn’t cut a lot of ice with most people. Bartenders dispense a lot of advice, but few bartenders have had any training in leadership. If you tend to pontificate or come across as a authority figure who sits in condemnation on the person who turns to you, you’re finished.
Genuine, warm concern for people forges lasting relationships that allow you to be an anchor when the storms of life buffet people. Actually, the preparation is done long before you ever hear those words, “What do you think I should do?”
Surely Jesus radiated this kind of warmth to the people who were touched by His life.
A lesson can be learned from the way Jesus handled the conversation wit the fallen woman. He knew exactly where she was coming from, yet refrained from asking the questions some would ask, such as:
How did you get into this profession?
How many men do you see every night?
Do you enjoy what you are doing?
Christ didn’t focus on the past, but the present (“Where are your accusers?”) and the future (“Go and sin no more!”). When you train the real issue is: where do you go from here and how do you get there?
* Rely totally upon the Lord as you train people
The person who is a Godly leader and friend prays as he listens. It isn’t necessary for you to close your eyes, but it is important to be in an attitude of prayer as you say, “Lord, help me to pick up the silent signals, to read the nonverbal cues, and to hear what is really being said.”
The Holy Spirit often gives you intuitive knowledge to ask the right questions, so that the person begins to reveal the real issue.
- For the Leader (georgehach.wordpress.com)