Poor isn’t always poor

14 May

I don’t really like the word “poor.”

I think one of the problems I have with the way it is commonly used is that it almost always is used to refer to only one kind of poverty. I guess another problem is that when it is used that way it seems to reinforce the idea that having more material possessions always automatically puts a person in a superior and enviable position (those “poor poor people”) when the reality is it doesn’t. In fact, sometimes it is the opposite way around. The materially poor person who is working with the materially rich person should really be saying, those ‘poor rich people.’

There are so many different ways to be poor. One of the worst ways to be poor is to be poor in relationships, and so often, that’s exactly the kind of poverty materially rich people face. Another terrible way to be poor is to be poor in contentment or satisfaction, because if you lack that, it steals pretty much all the joy out of any other kind of riches you might have.

I think it is especially important for people who are working or thinking about working alongside people who have less than them materially not to buy into the world’s script, which is that material poverty equals inferiority, which is that having less materially always means being in a position where you should be pitied.

It doesn’t and if you think it does, you are not really going to be of much help to people who have less than you materially because what will happen is that you will seek to serve those who have less from a position of superiority and that ends up being a pretty ugly kind of service.

Tim Chester puts it like this, “We give the poor a meal on our soup runs, homeless meals. We do the equivalent in a thousand projects. We think we are serving. How humble we are! But we have missed entirely the dynamic that is going on. What we really proclaim is that we are able and you are unable. I can do something for you, but you can do nothing for me. I am superior to you. We cloak our superiority in compassion, but superiority cloaked in compassion is not love. It is paternalism. It is patronising.”

And you know what else, it is deluded. That’s my point. It is buying into the world’s ideas of what is really valuable and what gives significance and those ideas are empty because they are not even based on reality of how the world we live in actually works!

2 Responses to “Poor isn’t always poor”


  1. Are the poor always poor? And the rich, rich? « Faithful Discipleship - May 17, 2012

    […] A good post by Josh Mack. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted by masimdumisene Filed in 1Hope, Counseling, Discernment, Mercy Ministry, Missional living, Missions, Wisdom, Worldview Leave a Comment » […]

  2. “I am rich!” | Gospel Enthralled - May 18, 2012

    […] visit the following link for what I believe is a fresh perspective to the definition of poor: https://joshnmarda.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/poor-isnt-always-poor/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in […]

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