Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Thursday
May262011

GUIDELINES FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Edward Logue was Distinguished Guest Lecturer at the University of Cincinnati Planning Department in the spring of 1980.  He had developed the central business districts of New Haven and Boston.  Governor Nelson Rockefeller had made him developer for New York State.  Politics had blown him out of that position, so in 1980 he was working in the South Bronx.

He was assigned to work with my Seminar on planning and development of community organizations in Over-the-Rhine.  I was eager to learn his wisdom about building trust with community groups.

The Seminar lasted three hours on Tuesday afternoons.  Mr. Logue arrived during the first hour of the first class.  When he cautiously poked his gray-bearded head around the doorframe, I thought, “It’s Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th Street.”  We welcomed him to the class.

I had primed the students to be ready with questions, and the first was:  “Sir, you brought with you to South Bronx a national reputation.  What did you do to develop credibility with community leaders and residents?”

Replying in his attention-commanding whisper, he replied, “Well, I’m not sure I have much credibility with them, but it's a good question.  Here’s what you do:

“First, you listen a lot.”

“Second, you have to be ready to answer intelligently and courageously.  You’ll spend a lot of time saying no.

“Third, make only promises you can keep.  Keep all the promises you make.

“Fourth, respect the process.  If you ask a community group to make a decision, you’d better do what the group decides.”

After the talk was over and Mr. Logue left, I told the class, “If you really understood what he said, you’ve already received more than your money’s worth for this quarter.”

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Since then, three additions have occurred to me.

Fifth, you will be trusted only if you are present and participating.  You mostly build trust by keeping your mouth shut and doing effective work for the organization.  (See rule 1 above.)

Sixth, publicize results, rather than plans.

Seventh, be as inclusive as possible.  Develop broad support early in the planning stage.  If you don’t, you won’t have a process, you’ll have combat.

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Developing trust with a community is a complex process.  Following these seven guidelines does not assure success.  But, violating them promotes disaster.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Towe

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