Monday, December 18, 2006

the pride of helping others...

It's funny how helping others can bring out the pride in you (and I'm definitely using the word "pride" as a bad word).

I've also seen this in where someone lives. You'd think I'm talking about some prideful rich person living in a mansion looking down at someone living in a one bedroom apartment....but I'm not. In the past couple of months, I've heard a half dozen people talk about the suburbs as though they were the worst possible place to live. They talk about them to me and I live in the suburbs. It's like they're so bad, that even I must realize how awful my living situation it's ok to rip on my neighborhood right in front of me. They talk about them exactly like some rich jerk might talk about living in the ghetto. It's almost the exact opposite living situation - but both are judgmental or "I'm just superior" - ways of looking at them. It's just that you can talk derisively about the suburbs because they're seen as the "haves"

I know a couple of people who tell me how diverse their neighborhood is, and I always ask, "what are your neighbor's names?". I don't really care how diverse your neighborhood is, do you even interact with your neighbors? Who cares what your neighborhood group picture would look like -if everyone is going to keep to themselves?

There are now more poor people living in the suburbs than the cities.

You can help poor people get jobs, clothes, shelter and counseling in the city or in the suburbs. It's just sad when someone looks at one person helping another and immediately discounts it because "that's not what I do. I'm really helping the poor"

That's not even the point. I don't care where rich people or poor people live...I'm living in my neighborhood because that's where we chose to live. I don't have to rationalize that there are poor people within a mile from here. There are people going through divorce, death and diabetes (see what I did there?) in my sub-division. People are hurting here....but that's not the point.

My problem isn't really with people looking down on the suburbs for whatever reason (they hate trees? all the houses look alike - and they don't in cities? they hate grass?) It's that we all look down on someone because they don't live like us/serve like us/give like us.

We feed over 1,000 families a month at our church. We also wrap presents for people at the mall. I regularly see people look at the folks who are wrapping presents for others and handing out bottles of water in the 'burbs, and complain that they're just helping rich people.

Both are good.

Helping people is good.

One of the hardest things to overcome when you become part of helping solve a problem (mission trip, volunteering to help the elderly/blind/Bragg/homeless) is the pride that comes along for the ride. It can become so all consuming that your passion is this spiteful - they should help out too...just like ME - and that passion steals your passion to focus on helping the elderly/blind/Bragg/homeless.


  1. In some way, shape, or form, we all choose to do what we do because we feel it is the "best" way to live and to share the love of Jesus with others. I think it is "better" to live in the city; I think it is "better" to live among diverse people (I know names of homeless people in Clifton - aren't I cool? I feel so proud of myself right now...wait, oops). I think it is "better" to spend an afternoon building one relationship rather than handing out a hundred bottles of water. We do what we value most, and I value all of those things the most. If I didn't think my way was better, then I wouldn't do it.

    But...the key (I think) is to value the Body of Christ; to understand that my way is the best for me, not for everyone; to celebrate the folks who meet Jesus through a bottle of water; to encourage people who value other things to pursue those things with passion and determination; and to not let the "pride" turn into judgment.

    When it's about me, I elevate myself and my ways. When it's about Jesus, I celebrate the diversity of the Body. I'm still working on it being about Jesus.

  2. well said my friend
    and I'm getting better at ping pong

    except, not really

  3. Connie10:45 AM

    There is a lot of reverse snobbery about the suburbs. I said something to a friend about my neighborhood and he said "What neighborhood? You live in the suburbs."I've never understood that need to feel smugly superior.

  4. Anonymous1:33 PM

    You really don't like non-rich people, do you Sean? Are you afraid the rich people will stop supporting the church that's supporting you (by the way, you are living on charity, did you realize that?) ?

    You're always saying rich people are good and nice and deserving and poorer people deserve to be poor or complain too much or whatever.

    I'm nice, humble and I'm poor.

    It's gettin' old.

  5. Living in the city of Cincinnati pro's and con's

    - Free bass thump music emanating from cars at all hours of the night. (pro)

    - Constantly having to deliberate whether or not to walk to the store as opposed to drive. (con)

    - Complimentary demolition of your front door or side window every other year so that you can replace it and many of the items in your house with new ones. (Pro)

    - Old, hand-crafted houses with hard to replace craftsmanship. (con)

    - "Two-fer" of co-prison system/school district planning. We don't need to build a jail, that's what our public schools are for. (pro)

    - Having several different ethnicities, renters & homeowners, poor & rich all living on the same street may have the undesired affect of confusing your child into thinking that all men are, in fact, created equal. (con)

    - Having close proximity to convicted child molesters always insures that no matter what you do you can always say to neighbors, "Well it's not like I'm 'Jim the Child molestor'!" (pro)

    So you can see why I'm torn.

  6. I'm always saying poor people deserve to be poor?
    where? when? huh?

    I would say that rich people are often good and nice and I'm with you on that.

    I wonder how nice or humble someone could be to leave an anonymous comment like's getting old.

  7. Yeah Sean!? Why do you hate poor people, and the handicapped, and orphans, and puppies, ....and little babies?!?
    I still think the Murphy family should have moved to Pleasant Ridge instead of West Chester. But that's because I want to be able to say to neighbors no matter what I do, "it's not like I'm Murphy the baby hater."

  8. One time Sean was in Clifton and I saw him kick a poor guy. For no reason.


  9. where do you think the expression "just for kicks" came from?