He needed some money and I could have just given it to him. After all, this young man had seen and experienced things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. If anyone deserved unchecked charity it was the lad riding in my passenger seat. It certainly would be easier and less time consuming to give my mentee some cash and call it a day.
Like a fly that just won’t go away, the old proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” buzzed around my head.
So, we stopped the car outside a local restaurant and walked in. I showed him how to ask for an application, asked how old he had to be to apply, then off to the next place. After he was willing to give it a try himself, I stood with him as he asked for an application. The final business we applied at, I waited in the car as he walked in and asked by himself. It took him almost three months, but he found a job by himself, and over the past decade, he’s always found employment. As a matter of fact, with the last promotion he received at his current company, he has blown the lid off all societies expectations on what he would be able to accomplish. Since learning to “fish” my mentee has discovered that the sky’s the limit.
And now, some 10 years and dozens of mentees later, Kirsten and I find our selves using theses same simple principles in every level of our lives and ministry.
Recently, my young son made a mess and then half cleaned it. I could have just cleaned the rest up in a minute and then reprimanded him. Instead, I took an extra five minutes so we could clean it up together. That way, my son can learn what it looks like to clean up a mess properly and completely.
When ministering on the street and to my mentees, I tell these men that at any time they can use my internet or computer to find job opportunities or classes to learn what they need to accomplish their goals, I’ll even help show them how. However, I will never do it for them.
With the orphan center we are helping, it would be easier to jump in, take over and do what needs to be done for new programs and management, however, that would only solve one problem by creating another…our need to always manage whatever we create. Instead, we are teaching the staff members how to fundraise themselves, how to network, how to digitize their records and hold one another accountable to their work and follow up with funders.
One friend I’ve been coaching over this past year, began computer classes several months ago. After his certification on the systems he is studying, he’ll be eligible for a job paying five times what he earns now. That means, his kids will grow up in a safer and clean neighborhood, his wife can stay home and focus on the kid’s education, and he can continue his own education looking for unlimited advancement.
On the surface you might say, well yeah, it’s computers, so if we can just teach people how to do a, b and c etc. they can all succeed. However, that’s not where my friend’s success came from. It came from learning to think differently; learning to walk towards his dreams. And THAT is what we as Gray Family Missions teach on multiple levels.
Taking the time to teach, results in sustainability.
We are all disciples of Jesus. We are all called to make disciples of Jesus (not ourselves). This is not a job just for church leaders, but everyone who is a son/daughter of God. It is also vital that we are wary of teaching others to follow our own ideals, but rather focus on teaching those in our care about Jesus and to look to Him and that ultimately they only need Him.
Friends, family, employees, our CHILDREN….everyone of us has someone we influence.
I challenge you to think and pray about who you influence and ask yourself:
- “Do I take the time to teach others to fish?”
- Or “Am I satisfied with the occasional charity?”
- In the long run, which will make their life easier… your life easier?
If I teach my young kids how to hear God’s voice and walk in faith towards their dreams now, instead of waiting until their 20’s like I did, I know they will accomplish more than I can even imagine – after all there’s no age limit on fishing! ; )