After spending several years directing a missions program and working with impoverished communities and orphanages around the world, I've seen the damage that enablement can cause. We want to help, and our first reaction is to help in material ways. Unfortunately, this generally undermines the way in which God wants to help people. He wants to teach them, not simply provide for them. He wants them to learn character and maturity, not make life easier.
This holds true for both missions work internationally and benevolence work locally. The role of Christians is not only to provide resources to people who claim to have need, but to get involved in their lives and learn what are their real needs. Needs often present themselves as material, but are actually relational. Certainly, there are times when real material needs demand real material action. But by defaulting to that position because it is easier for us or makes us feel better, we are simply slapping a bandaid on the problem. Instead, we need to get ot the heart of the matter. That takes time. It's uncomfortable and sometimes awkward. But it is the right way to help people without hurting them.
Watch as Steve Saint makes this point after falling on stage while speaking.
For several years I directed a missions organization that partnered with ministries around the world working to reach people with the love of Christ. Many were reaching out to impoverished communities and trying to improve the lives of the poor with diverse methods and varying levels of success. I learned a lot during those years and spent hours brainstorming about the most effective way to help the materially poor.Why does it seem that poverty is such an endless cycle for some people? Why does the man I help one week need to keep asking me for money month after month? When I give a needy person something, am I really helping them in a time of need? Or, am I simply enabling and encouraging the poor life choices that brought them to this point?