People ask me, “What can I do to help people who live in poverty?” and that’s always a hard question for me to answer. Each one of us has a particular passion or interest that captures us. Some want to deal with the immediate needs, to deal with the symptoms of poverty. So they work in soup kitchens or sort clothes for clothes closets or make night shelters available so people will not have to sleep outside in a cardboard box.
Some feel compelled to work with individuals or families so that barriers can be overcome and the family can begin to thrive. So these folks help people connect with education or job training, receive mental health services, or obtain addiction treatment. They work intimately with a few people in order to help the family or individual achieve significant life changes.
Others feel passionate about changing the systems of the world. They argue that people would not need night shelters if we as a society had an adequate safety net of transportation, adequate medical care, livable wages, etc. They advocate for universal child care or universal medical care for children. They try to tackle the “status quo” so that they can change how the world operates. They want to make the world a great and healthy place for everyone.
Sometimes people will try to move into areas that are not their true interests. They may feel truly bad about not serving at a soup kitchen. They may apologize for not wanting to be intimately involved with a needy family. They may feel guilty about not doing enough. This is where Robert Greenleaf’s insights are helpful. In his book Servant Leadership Greenleaf wrote: “There are legions of persons of good will who could sharpen and clarify their view of the more serving society they would like to live in and help build—if in no other way than by holding a deepened interest and concern about it and speaking to the condition of others. Is not such widespread action necessary if the climate that favors service, and supports servants, is to be maintained? “
I have done all of the suggestions mentioned above. However, I believe that my true calling, especially through our Eyes Were Opened, Inc. is to deepen interest and concern about society and speak to the condition of others. I want to create a climate that favors service and supports servants.
Where do you fit in? ARE YOU DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?