An old Yiddish proverb says, “God gave burdens, also shoulders.” But have you ever felt that your shoulders were too weak to bear your burdens? This is one reason God has made the church a family—that we might bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Often, God gives us the privilege of helping to lift the burdens of others. Sometimes, God uses our shoulders to lift someone else’s burden.
While it is easy to see only our own needs, there are always people around us who are hurting. Sometimes we see their needs, and sometimes the needs are so personal we never even know about them. But whether a person’s need is known or unknown, everyone has burdens. And God gives a church the privilege of ministering to each other.
What can we do to lift the load of another person? Here are six simple ways:
- Pray. Prayer is not the least we can do; it is the greatest we can do! The Apostle Paul repeatedly reminded other believers that he was literally depending on their prayers for him (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 1:16). Those believers could do little to alleviate the physical sufferings of Paul when he was in prison, but their prayers for him made a difference. When was the last time you prayed for that person you are burdened for?
- Write a note of encouragement. It doesn’t need to be a long epistle. Just a few sentences that tell someone you love and appreciate them will uplift their spirit. Writing encouraging notes is a vital habit for anyone in ministry.
- Offer a word of verbal praise. Even a simple comment like, “You are a blessing to me” will encourage and strengthen a heart. Practice saying an encouraging word to several people each day.
- Give a small gift. Train yourself to pay attention to the small things that others enjoy. Bringing a Sunday school student his favorite candy bar or slipping a restaurant gift card to a young couple are simple gifts that express affirmation and care.
- Extend hospitality. Opening your home to others is a form of opening your heart. It says, “I care about you, and I want to be personally involved in encouraging you.” Hospitality builds relationships, and relationships bear burdens.
- Lend a helping hand. Maybe someone has a burden that you can help with. Could you babysit one afternoon for an overwhelmed mom? Could you mow the lawn for a widow? Could you help an unemployed dad get a job at your company? There’s nothing to lift another’s burden like helping to to carry it.
We are all selfish by nature, and it’s easy to become focused only on our own needs. But extending yourself to lift another’s burden will often lighten your own!
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).