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The first key principle of effective poverty alleviation is….

My four year old, Joshua, and two year old Caleb are playing as they always do. I hear Caleb crying and pulling away his toy, “I don want it, I don want it.” Joshua is also crying, “I just wanna rescue him, I just wanna rescue.”

“Joshua, come.” I intervene. He slowly walks over, in tears. “Do you know you are a man of God?,” I ask. “Yes,” he replies nodding.

“Something that men of God do is that they respect other people. Even though you love Caleb, you have to get his permission to rescue him. Men of God don’t force themselves on other people even to help them. They get their permission. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” he nods, whipping his eyes.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a situation like this and responded in a similar way. Both of them are crying. Joshua thinks he is doing the right thing rescuing his little brother. But the little brother is crying as well. He doesn’t want help. He feels Joshua is intruding. I’m still working with Joshua and hope soon he will learn something else that love does. Love doesn’t only rescue, it respects. It doesn’t force itself on someone and it doesn’t intrude.

I think when it comes to helping others, we often act like Joshua. Like Joshua, we often don’t realize this. It’s usually unconsciously done.

A key principle of effective poverty alleviation is respect!

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2 Comments

  1. This last line of the post is huge. “A key principle of effective poverty alleviation is respect!” We have to genuinely respect the people we are trying to help, respect them as we to would like to be respected. It is easy for us to help out of a superiority mindset, to think that they NEED our help, and it needs to be done our way. Then once the help has been done, to walk away from that situation, tell stories of how we helped someone who we probably don’t even know their name. The fact that we don’t even know their name shows that we probably lacked a bit of respect for that person as another human being or daughter or son of Christ. Obviously it depends on the situation on whether or not you knew their name because you could be helping a group of 100 people, of course not knowing their names is okay. Like you said, respect is also a part of loving someone. I once saw a quote that said “Honoring someone that you do not respect starts with seeing them as they are, created in the image of God.” I think that the word Loving could replace the word Honoring in this quote. Loving someone period calls for us to see them as they are, created in the image of God. Respecting others even when it is hard calls for us to see them as they are, created in the image of God. To love we have to respect.
    This post is great and will challenge me to check my motive and mindset next time I am helping someone in need, even when it comes to giving advice, some people don’t want to hear advice if they feel that it is opposite of what they want to do and I have to respect that the best I can out of the love and respect I have for them.

  2. I love how you illustrated this point with a real-life example. I can totally relate to Joshua, seeing someone who needs help and wanting to do whatever I can to rescue them. In fact, sometimes I get angry that they don’t want my help and am offended that they are okay continuing to do something wrong. I think I am looking at it incorrectly. Perhaps they just need time and want to be able to do it on their own. Rather than paternalizing them, I need to respect where they are and let them work it out on their own. Thanks for this post!