A coach, not a caretaker

Robert Lupton:

“Personal responsibility is essential for social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to disempower them. The negative outcomes of welfare are no different when religious or charitable organizations provide it. The struggle for self-sufficiency is, like the butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon, an essential strength building process that should not be short-circuited by ‘compassionate’ intervention. The effective helper can be an encourager, a coach, a partner, but never a caretaker.”

Pride shows up in so many forms. One of its best disguises can even trick people into thinking it is compassion. When we see someone struggling, instead of helping them move forward, pride can make us impatient and cause us to swoop in and try to fix what we think is the problem ourselves. Pride causes us to work with adults the way we might with little children. ‘Oh you can’t solve this yourself, well bother, let me just do it myself.’ And, while we go away feeling good about ourselves because we solved the problem what really happened was that we stole that person’s dignity and then perhaps because they did not learn what they needed through the lesson God was giving them, when the same situation comes up again in their life, the same pride that caused us to swoop in and save the day now causes us to say, ‘Well, you see, you try to help some people and it just comes back to bite you. I guess I won’t do that again.’

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