Friday, February 10, 2012

Lessons from Living With (But Not In) Poverty (Part 4)

This one might be a little radical.  But stick with me.

Lesson #5

Give Someone a Job.

Yep.  Hire Someone.  To do your cleaning, laundry, cooking, landscaping, gardening, whatever.  Be creative. 

I can hear you saying, You're telling me to hire a maid?

Well, I don't really like that word, but basically, Yes.  Giving someone a job is the best way to help that person get out of poverty.

We do this all the time in Africa.  We have two people who work for us full-time.  I know that full-time help is much more expensive in America.  So try once a week. 

But I know the stereotype.  Only the rich and lazy have maids and gardeners and cooks. 

Well, we've already established that you are rich.  Get used to the idea.

And lazy?  Well, it doesn't have to be that way.  Having full-time house help frees up hours of time that I can invest in ministry.  You don't have to use that time for watching television.  Volunteer in a pregnancy center or make meals for people who are sick or better yet, get to know your neighbors. 

It's time that people in the west stop seeing these kind of jobs as a luxury, and instead see them as ministry

I'm not suggesting that you hire someone and then make sure you are never home when she is around.  I'm suggesting that you hire somone and then invest in his life.

Which involves talking.  Getting to know him.  Finding out who her kids are.  Having the family over to dinner.  Discovering his goals and aspirations, and then helping him meet those goals.  Encouraging English classes, if needed.  Helping her take college classes.  Teaching him new skills that will help him move upwards economically. 

And maybe even spoiling her kids at Christmas.  Don't you think that would be much better than buying presents for an unknown, faceless "poor" person who will probably lose his dignity because he can't afford gifts for his kids himself?  How much better for the family to receive gifts from her generous employer!

What I'm talking about is messy business, folks.  Trust me.  There are many times when I would just prefer to do my ironing myself, thank you very much, because it's emotionally hard and complicated and just plain messy to be that involved in a person's life. 

But isn't that what we are called to do? 

Like I said, it's much easier to just throw money at the problem.  Or pick up a few extra gifts at Christmas for a person you will never meet. 

But that's not going to end poverty. 

So think about it.  If you are on a tight budget, maybe you already scrimp and save and sacrifice to sponsor a child overseas or support an Indian pastor.  And what I am suggesting is that it would be just as valuable (maybe more so) to scrimp and save and sacrifice to hire someone.

It's not a luxury; it's ministry.  If you are willing to see it the right way.

And the last one (for now!):  Part 5
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