“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Bible

Recently I ran across an article that suggested two characteristics which significantly impede a man from taking the role of leadership in his family and in society in general. They are passivity and apathy. This is probably true of both men and women, although women, by virtue of their role in childbearing, are forced to be slightly more active for at least a limited time.

We don’t think that our limited efforts will do any good, so we don’t try. Or we just don’t care. These characteristics are easy to assume today. With so much turmoil all around the world with man-made disasters, natural disasters, mores of society changing so rapidly, it’s easy to sit back and just roll with the punches.

Many people live for today only, reacting to each crisis as it comes along. If they can’t handle the crisis, and they usually can’t, they turn to someone else for help. If they have money today, they spend it today. If they don’t have any money – then they beg, borrow or steal.

Don’t get me wrong. Crises will continue to occur – events that we haven’t planned for. And we must help one another. A book entitled “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert suggests that when we help people we should discern whether the situation calls for relief, rehabilitation or development.

The book also suggests that we spend way too much time, effort and money with relief and not nearly enough on rehabilitation or development. Consider the following question for someone who needs help: “Is your need an emergency due to an immediate, unforeseen, unusual and temporary situation?” If not, then perhaps the emphasis should be placed on rehabilitation and/or development.

The articles written in this column are not just to entertain or to provide interesting information, although I hope that you find them pleasant and acceptable. FAMCO provides these articles primarily because we believe that the family as God has designed it is the key to healthy relationships and a healthy society in general.

Crises occur in marriages and the family and we all need help from time to time. There are numerous resources available to provide that help, including FAMCO. However, FAMCO’s primary desire is to help you prevent the crises in those areas over which you can exercise some control.

In other words, using the principles provided in “When Helping Hurts,” FAMCO would like to help you focus on development, perhaps some rehabilitation as needed, with much less attention on relief. Although we may choose to be passive and apathetic about the events in the world over which we have no control, we can choose to have a real effect on the success of our marriage and family.

A report by The National Marriage Project, University of Virginia, in The State of Our Unions 2010 stated the following: “In middle America, marriage is in trouble. Among the affluent, marriage is stable and may even be getting stronger. Among the poor, marriage continues to be fragile and weak. But the most consequential marriage trend of our time concerns the broad center of our society, where marriage, that iconic middle-class institution, is foundering.”

I suspect the “stability” in marriages among the affluent may be due to their ability to afford separate lives “together.” In any case, most marriages are struggling. Before we reach crisis stage, what can we do for rehabilitation and development? Consider the following questions:

What does a successful marriage look like? Is my definition of success in line with God’s design for marriage? If my marriage is not on the path to success, what resources do I need to change my path?

Am I willing to put passivity and apathy aside and be proactive in improving my marriage and helping others around me?

Roger Rollins is the executive director of The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. Contact him at 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com or www.aikenfamco.com.