You Can’t Help Those that Won’t help Themselves
The Healing Pool
Today’s topic is something that I have personally struggled with a great deal. Often times in coaching you meet people in search of a solution to their problems. Their problems may be financial, physical or maybe they are like me and looking for a way to escape a life without passion. Whatever their reason may be, when you meet one of these people, you listen to their story and attach yourself to their situation. After hearing them out, you absolutely know that your product/service or opportunity is the answer to their prayers. What hurts, is when they don’t listen to the solution that you offer them even when they know that the ideas you have presented them with are exactly what they had been searching for. Instead of moving forward with a plan, they fall back on one or more excuses, sighting their excuses as the reason why they will remain in the situation they so desperately want to eliminate.
After years of struggling with my inability to help those that shared their pain with me, I brought my concerns up to my life coach. After listening to my frustration, she shared the following story with me. It comes from the Bible. What I have learned, is that regardless of your religion or your beliefs, when understood, there is much wisdom in the stories of the Bible. Even if you don’t share my beliefs in God, I still encourage you to listen to the following story. The passage comes from the Book of John, Chapter 5, verses 1-8. It is titled, “The Healing at the Pool”.
The Healing at the Pool
1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
If you are like me, when you first read this passage, you may have assumed that the story is about the powers that Jesus had to heal the sick. As a person that felt disenfranchised by religion for many years, stories like this would have had little impact on me. However, in this situation, as my coach was sharing it with me, she helped me understand the powerful symbolic meaning of the scripture. Please allow me to do the same for you.
Starting with verses 1 and 2, we read that there is a pool in Jerusalem that is surrounded by five covered colonnades. In verse 3 we learn that near the pool were many disabled people. Those people were blind, lame and/or paralyzed.
Let’s pause here for a moment and consider the figurative meaning behind what we have just read. At this point we know that there were five covered colonnades (a row of columns supporting a roof), and that there are a great deal of disabled people lying near the pool. In the figurative sense, these are the people in your life that always have something going wrong in their life. They seem to always be complaining about their health, their job, their marriage, their finances or one of many other problems they simply can’t seem to rid from their life. Of these people, there are the blind, figurative translation, those that can’t see the solution, though the answer is right in front of them, just like the pool is right in front of all the disable that lay around it. The lame, those who know what to do but feel as though they lack something, knowledge, a skill, a tool or the financial wherewithal to do it. The last group are the paralyzed, those that have all they need. They know exactly what to do to move beyond their current situation, but they are frozen, like a deer caught in headlights and, for whatever reason, they can’t take the necessary actions to move forward.
As we continue, in verse 5, Jesus sees a man that had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. It doesn’t say that the man was 38 years old, the verse just states that he had been an invalid for 38 years. The significance of this is that 38 years is half of a human life, for half his life this man has struggled with his issue(s).
In verse 6 Jesus asks the question, “Do you want to get well?”. This may be the single most important thing to remember when offering someone your assistance. No matter how badly you want to help someone, regardless of the circumstances that they are in, you can NOT help them if they don’t want to get better. Fact is, some people just want to complain about their circumstances, they have little desire to fix them. Understanding this helped me release my sadness and frustration over being unable to “rescue” those that don’t want to be saved.
In verse 7, the man responds to Jesus by making excuses for himself. The man states that he has no one to help him into the pool when the water is stirred and that when he is trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of him. In network marketing, we hear the same excuses all the time. I don’t have the money to get started; I don’t have the time to apply to building a business. Though in some circumstances these excuses may be real, if someone believes that what you are offering is the solution they have been searching for, they may be making these excuses because they don’t WANT to get well.
Moving on, in verse 8 Jesus said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk. And in verse 9 we learn that the man was cured; and he picked up his mat and walked.” What I find interesting is that nowhere does it say that Jesus touched him or that the man sat in the pool, the verse only states that Jesus told him to get up. The “getting up” is symbolic of the man “taking action”, that he was immediately cured, symbolizes that the man knew what to do and always had the power to heal himself, he just needed to decide that he wanted to get well.
Since I have truly embraced the saying, “you can’t help those unwilling to help themselves”, I have found new inner peace. No longer do I get as upset or frustrated when someone I truly care for chooses not to take the necessary actions to remove themselves from their current situation. I hope that sharing this story will help you as well.
Excellent insight Kevin! Thank you for sharing. When I read “taking action” immediately cured him, – I could feel something rise up in me. It truly is making that decision and then acting on it.
I too, used to get frustrated when i knew I had an answer for people but I realize over time that some people are where they want to be whether it’s good or bad.