Book reports are something that a lot of us are extremely familiar with. We all have probably written one on The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter. I was never too enthusiastic about being told to read a book and then report on it. However, since I am now in a profession where it is essential to read books that help equip me, I am more than willing to share a “book report”. I crave to share the information I receive from these books with the church, friends, and fellow believers in Christ.
The book that I have recently finished is called Toxic Charity, written by Robert D. Lupton. This book is filled with thought provoking ideas about how to not just “better” people’s situations, but to “develop” the people in these situations. Lupton walks through the process of how too much betterment of communities turns into a toxic mixture of dependency, entitlement, and possible undermining of the very relationship a Christian helper is attempting to give.
He uses a popular phrase, “Feed a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”, to explain the difference between betterment (feeding a man a fish) and development (teaching a man to fish). Lupton also goes in greater depth. He explains that each individual has now “developed” a skill set, but in order to teach all the individuals to fish and thrive we must come together and figure out how to make use of the lake’s potential (creating a developed community from the usage of the lake).
Toxic Charity helps us as the church and as Christians to understand that following God’s will of loving His people and reaching the unreached comes from full involvement with the people. In order to truly follow the commandment to love God’s people as He has loved us (John 13: 34-35) and to develop His people and communities, we must commit fully to the people we are serving. We must come alongside them to ensure they are shown our love that derives from Christ and that the people within the community are aware of their full potential. Lupton does a great job summing up these ideas and challenging us in the way we do “charity”, specifically for the poor. He says, “If there is one take-away message that this book can offer to those in service work or supporting it, it is this: the poor, no matter how destitute, have enormous untapped capacity; find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it” (pg.191).
Want to read the book?
Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton
Can get it at almost any local bookstore, on Amazon (click here) $12.00, iBooks ($11.00), and on Kindle ($10.00).