Sometimes I find something that is so good, I want to share it without changing it in any way. This paragraph from Kierkegaard’s work is such a piece. It has been a part of my preaching and teaching philosophy for many years.
Here is the opening paragraph to Chapter A2 from Kierkegaard’s Writings, Volume 22 translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, reformatted so that the opening paragraph has added line breaks to make some key thoughts stand out:
If One Is Truly to Succeed in Leading a Person to a Specific Place, One Must First and Foremost Take Care to Find Him Where He is and Begin There.
This is the secret in the entire art of helping.
Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.
If I do not do that, then my greater understanding does not help him at all. If I nevertheless want to assert my greater understanding, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basically instead of benefiting him I really want to be admired by him.
But all true helping begins with a humbling.
The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness, for the time being, to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.
I pray that this scripture might apply to all believers: “The Lord gave me the ability to teach so that I know what to say to make the weak strong. Every morning He wakes me. He teaches me to listen like a student. The Lord helps me learn, and I have not turned against Him nor stopped following Him” (Isaiah 50:4, NCV).
~ Brother Roy