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.