“How Do I know I’m ‘Really’ Helping?”
Did you know that there is actually a right way and a wrong way to be charitable? As a pastor for 7 years, I was guilty of believing that throwing money (or ‘band-aids’) at someone’s need, no questions asked, would solve all of their problems. I realized how wrong and ignorant my beliefs about charity were when I joined the staff at CVCCS as Executive Director. Was I really helping people? The answer was ultimately, no. And, I learned that my view on charity was not very Biblical either.
Like me, in our zeal to help others, we can actually do harm to those we’re trying to help. Meeting a need is impossible if we don’t know the context of each individual situation. I failed to realize that it’s OK to ask personal questions if someone comes to you for help. It’s actually a red flag if someone can’t or won’t answer. That was a shocking realization.
Unless we are discerning, it’s easy for well-meaning people like you and me to be taken advantage of. When we fail to use discernment, we allow others to continue in destructive cycles, whatever they may be. A main area of struggle within charitable circles is resisting the urge to jump in and quickly solve an issue. That which is presented as a crisis RARELY is. Therefore, we need to step back, take a breath, and get the whole picture.
Poverty is very complex, but it essentially comes down to broken relationships. Think about that. But, you and I can introduce people to something they may have never known before such as genuineness, hope, and stability. As Jesus exhibited all throughout His ministry, we can help break others crippling cycles by being a lifeline for those starved of healthy relationships.
Relationships take time. They consist of engaging in real, genuine conversations, listening intently, and establishing connections. Everyone has a story. Try sharing your story, and let others share theirs.
Establishing and maintaining boundaries is another pivotal aspect of healthy relationships often neglected within charitable circles. Did you know that showing real, unconditional love consists of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries? That is counter cultural in our society today.
By refusing to embrace boundaries we wreck others social capital. Boundaries mean that your shoes might get dirty. It’s uncomfortable. However, it’s NOT ungodly to have expectations of people. What’s more, in order to truly help someone they have to want to be helped.
Remember this, it’s NOT unloving to expect people to do their part. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s cruel to send the message that a person has nothing of worth to offer. Being needed is the ultimate affirmation of human worth. Establishing dignity is powerful. Expectation implicitly communicates worth and trust.
Ultimately, I’ve learned the following summarization about practicing transformative charity through incredible partnerships, and the mission of CVCCS… You can’t truly meet others needs holistically unless you have a realistic, transcendent, and Biblical view of charity.
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS