Part 2: Bad Charity
So is all charity created equal? As an executive director of a non-profit I get this question all the time. Here is how it is usually worded: "If I help this person, will I be helping or hurting them?" It is actually an important question to ask before you help anyone, whether they are homeless or not. I think the first thing you need to examine before you help someone is your own motive: "Are you helping the person for them or for yourself?" If you are helping someone to satisfy yourself, you really should reconsider, because eventually you will be disappointed. However, if you have evaluated your heart and you are serving for the person that you are helping then you should do it.
So how could helping a homeless person be bad? Have you ever been helped by someone who you knew they were doing it to look good in front of other people? Although you were thankful for the help and said thanks, it feels a little like you are being used. Someone who is homeless will be appreciative for the help; however, every time you do this, you take a little bit of their dignity; and as you take a person’s dignity, you push them a little deeper into that feeling of homelessness (we will talk more about dignity stealing next week).
So how can you prevent this kind of charity? Actually spend some time and meet someone. Anytime you are helping “homeless people” you can fall into the trap of bad charity; however, when you are helping Mary, Bill, Ralph, or Sue it goes from putting people in categories and it becomes personal to you. Once it becomes personal you will change your focus and your attitude.
To see other Blogs in this series, click "Charity Hurts"