Marriage and family systems therapist, Dr. Cecil Bergen, was one of the most gifted instructors in my masters of counseling program. Bergen fostered an appreciation for systems theory, helping me to grasp its efficacy for healing groups, dysfunctional families, and struggling marriages. Regarding people in crisis, I’ll never forget Bergen leaning forward during a lecture, jabbing his finger at the room of aspiring therapists and crying out, “Don’t just sit and listen to your clients, do something, ANYTHING!”
While the anything was a bit of hyperbole, Bergen accomplished what he wanted to communicate. I haven’t forgotten that lecture. Systems counselors “do something” through assigning homework between sessions. They create an action plan to be implemented. Severe situations warrant specific actions.
I’m guessing by now you know where I’m going with this.
America is in crisis and we have action to take and work to do.
The operative word here, of course, is action. What is this action we are to do?
What is this action you are to do?
God, through the power of his spirit, wants to reveal that to you. Discerning that begins with prayer and meditation. As a Christian who believes in the holy inspiration of the Bible, I turn to scripture to define that action.
We’re all different and my plan probably won’t look like your plan. My hope is that you will choose a simple strategy for yourself and implement that as well.
My Action Plan for 2017
- Adopt Proverbs 3:27 as a rule of life. “Do not withhold good for those in need, when we have the ability to do it.”
- Meet community leaders and clergy that are intentional about getting involved in the needs our neighbors.
- Attend the national Q conference in Nashville for discussion on contemporary issues and Christian perspectives.
- Serve my local church in the development of a community garden and help food insecure families.
- Befriend an unhoused family and connect my church volunteers with others in homeless situations.
When my kids were little, we read a story together titled The Do-Something Day about a boy that tries to get his parents’ attention while they are preparing for the local fair.
His Mom tells her son to find something to do, so he leaves his house to wander the neighborhood. On his walk, local store proprietors invite him in to help with their chores and reward him with an item from their shops. When he finally returns home, his family greets him lovingly and discovers his new gifts are just what they need for their activities in the fair. It’s a heartwarming story and I’m glad I saved this book to read to my grandchildren.
For their birthdays, I facilitated their own do something days complete with helping my grandsons make a picture book recapturing our time together. Lake activities and campfires were some of our favorite birthday times.
Friends, it’s time to write our own Do Something Day stories. If you’re like me, I find it a lot easier to engage with my own family (especially grandchildren, of course!) than get involved in the messiness of those in need. But I believe there is something, at least one thing, that we all can do to make our world a better place. Our individual stories will read differently because our gifts are diverse.
But we can all “do good for those in need, when we have the ability to do it.”
Here are a few of my favorite books for encouragement, instruction, and inspiration as you seek to make changes in your own community~
Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. 2012. When Helping Hurts, How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. Chicago: Moody Press.
Corbett and Fikkert provide a biblically based framework focused upon the roots of poverty and strategies for alleviation. Author David Platt notes that he’s never read a better book on practically serving the poor. Colbert and Fikkert declare, “a path forward is found, not through providing resources to the poor, but instead by walking with them in humble relationships.” If your action plan is to help the least of these in your local context, then I would put this book at the top of your reading list.
Golden, Jonathan David. 2016. Be You. Do Good. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Pastor and founder of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company, Golden lives out his calling in the hills of Rwanda where his coffee growing business practices help to provide a living wage to more than 2,500 Rwandan farmers and their families. In his book, Golden inspires his readers to follow their passions with practical steps to fulfilling one’s calling and a life of purpose. Golden begins with a basic message that “each day you can make a difference by being yourself and doing good.”
Wall, Benjamin S. 2016. Welcome as a Way of Life. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
Wall digs deep into the theology of Jean Vanier, spiritual director and founder of the L’Arche communities for the severely disabled. Wall purports that the creation of authentic and accepting community for society’s marginalized is the by-product of a theology of welcome that characterizes the personhood of Jean Vanier and his disciples of caregivers. The expression of welcome may appear elementary, but Wall fleshes out welcome as a way of life with a serious development of Aristotelian ethics and Christian spirituality that undergird the lived out experience of welcome that Jesus intended for communities of peace and love.