A Dime a Day


Do we sometimes create unhealthy dependency through our compassion? A hand-up is more helpful than a hand-out.

One of my mentors credited his grandfather with this principle….

“Give a man a dime a day for 30 days—then stop. He’ll hate you for the rest of your life.”

He was right.

When we see someone with a need and we meet it, we feel good about ourselves. And after all, aren’t we instructed in Scripture to help? Doesn’t 1 John 3:17 say “If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you?” Isn’t our lack of compassion one of the major reasons young people have turned away from the church and the faith?

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

But I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about help that leads to dependence….help that weakens….help that absolves people of taking personal responsibility.

There are two places it’s most obvious, at least to me.

First, with our children. With 28% of all college kids becoming “boomerangs”… moving back home with their college degrees in hand, Moms and Dads are increasingly “helping” their kids become more dependent and less self reliant. We so want our kids to be “happy”, and “It’s so tough out there”. We don’t want them to take jobs that are “beneath them”, so we give them money, put them on the family payroll with no timeframe for coming off. Is our true motivation to help them? Could part of our motivation be to protect ourselves from the embarrassment of telling our friends that our kid is working at Starbucks or Walmart or some other place that’s “below” us? Could we be feeding pride in our kids at the very time they most need to learn humility? And could our own pride be a part of the equation?

And isn’t pride the underlying sin for all other sin?

The other place I see this played out is in missions in third world countries. I support a ministry called “410 Bridge” that’s focused on helping people in these developing countries help themselves. Kurt Candler, the Executive Director, tells of a village in Kenya that desperately needed chicken houses. 410 worked with local leadership to get the building materials and know-how delivered there. Almost two years later, the chicken houses still aren’t built. Why? Because the locals are waiting for the Americans to come on a “mission trip” and build them for them! They’ve been trained. That’s what we do.

To 410’s credit, they haven’t given into this dependency. The materials wait. The chickens continue to run wild. The locals will eventually learn “If we don’t work, we won’t eat” as the Apostle Paul said.

Look at your engagements. Where are you creating unhealthy dependency through your compassion? Ask God to give you clarity to see and courage to act where you need to make a change.

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