True or False?: “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”


“Heck with them if they can’t take a joke.”

Heather Bresch started out as a clerk at Mylan Pharmaceuticals in 1992. After lying on her resume about obtaining an MBA, she eventually worked her way up and became the Chief Executive Officer in 2012. Shortly after becoming the CEO, she aggressively increased the price of Mylan’s EpiPen. The news exploded. The average cost rose from about $100 to over $600! She blamed insurance companies for the approximately 600% increase in price. Meanwhile, from 2012 to 2016, she had a 671% increase in her salary from $2.5 million to over $18 million.

It’s easy to look at a story like this and sum it up with one word: greed. But, sometimes greed isn’t so flagrant. I worked for a moving and storage company during the summer months when I was in college. We were assigned to a driver each morning and worked like pack mules carrying the belongings from the house to the truck where the driver placed them into the “load.” I’ll never forget one time when we were loading a beautiful dining room table into the truck. The driver was struggling to get it into position. He gave it a shove and broke the leg off the table. He laughed when he said, “Heck with them if they can’t take a joke.” Then he tossed the broken leg on the top of the load. I was shocked. He had no concern. No compassion. No ownership.

Recently, I had to take a family member to the Emergency Department. As we approached the desk to check in, I asked the clerk, “How’s your day going?”. She didn’t even look up from her computer, “I’m here.” No concern. No compassion. No ownership. I suspect that if I had a longer conversation with her, she would have said things like:

  • “I didn’t sign up for this.” or
  • “I’m just here for the paycheck.” or
  • “That’s not my job.”

Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve encountered the same. These are all examples of people that are “takers.” They focus on their needs and not the needs of their team, not the needs of the organization and certainly not the needs of the people they are supposed to serve.

Give or take: Which direction does the energy flow when you’re around?

According to pollster George Barna, the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” topped a poll as one of the most widely known Bible verses. The only problem is, it’s not a Bible verse. Nope, it’s not in there. It was first written by Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government in 1698. Contrast that “verse” to John 15:13 (Phillips): “There is no greater love than this - that a man should lay down his life for his friends.” The energy flow in opposite directions.

Consider this from a business perspective. The most valuable people in any organization are the ones that do whatever they can to make other people successful (and they don’t care who gets the credit). My friend, Scott Halford, wrote a book called “Be a Shortcut.” It’s a great concept worth pondering. People want to work with those that help them get the work done. They are looking for ways to take a shortcut without compromising quality.

“If you’re not a Shortcut to someone, you’re taking up too much space.” - Scott Halford


My Medical Assistant, Brandon, embodies this concept. When he shows up at work, he brings enthusiasm, and he looks for opportunities to roll up his sleeves and help. He shows up first thing in the morning, slaps me on the shoulder and says, “What can I do to make your life easier today?” He doesn’t show up mumbling that he’s tired, stressed, or hasn't had his coffee yet. He doesn’t complain that no one is meeting his needs or that the organization “owes” him something. He shows up looking for opportunities to serve. If there are ever layoffs in the organization, I’m going to fight to keep him. He has taken the time to understand how he can help and he does it with great enthusiasm.

He’s not the only one. Consider the hospital housekeeper that asks the patient, while mopping the floor, “Would you like another blanket or a pillow?” How about the nurse that volunteers to take a shift or cover for a meal because they care about the people on their team? Don’t forget the physician that goes out of her way to be sure that everyone knows that it’s OK to speak up if her staff sees her about to make a mistake. Patients come first.

Concern. Compassion. Ownership.

Does God help “those who help themselves”? Perhaps, but I think He prefers to help those who help others.

Be a giver.

Questions to ponder:

  • Am I a giver or a taker?
  • How would my co-workers describe me? Giver or taker?
  • Which person on my team will I approach today to ask them what I can do to make their job easier/better?