Church, Community Organizing

Never Do For Someone What They Can Do For Themselves. Never Do For Someone What They’re Not Willing To Do For Themselves.

 

I heard both of these sentences uttered at this week’s NEXT Church national gathering in Atlanta. The first version one came from Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity, a book that has been referenced in at least fifteen of my conversations over the past month. The second was pronounced by Andrew Foster Connors, pastor at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore and an IAF community organizer with BUILD.

“Not willing.” That changes everything, doesn’t it?

When you refuse to do something for me that I can do myself,  you must assess my ability and decide that it is sufficient to the task that you would otherwise perform on my behalf and that helping me actually hurts me and diminishes my dignity.

But when you refuse to do something for me that I’m not willing to do for myself, you’re assessing not my ability but my intentions. It’s clear I could do it. I just don’t want to. That also hurts me. But it hurts you too, because you resent me and we can never be friends.

 

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2 thoughts on “Never Do For Someone What They Can Do For Themselves. Never Do For Someone What They’re Not Willing To Do For Themselves.

  1. Donna Supinger says:

    Does “ability” include time? I will help people out when they are crazy busy and I’m not. That’s being a good neighbor.

  2. Landon Whitsitt says:

    So I’ve had this post marked as unread since yesterday so I could respond. I think there’s a piece of this not being considered: Unwillingness is a litmus test. It assesses long term capacity to sustain change. It weeds out those who are not interested in agency, but accumulation.

    Someone once told me: “If you drag them in you’ll drag them around.” I see a lot of value refusing to do something someone else isn’t willing to do. And I do it all the time.

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