Perspective

So, until recently I was a youth pastor. Wow, that sounds funny to say…
Anyway, Youth Pastors generally take their kids on ‘Mission Trips’. Sometimes to places like Tiajuana where they build stuff, sometimes to the Bahamas (I am not making this up) where they sleep on the floor of a church, rebuild it, and do a VBS there, sometimes to Indian Reservations where the alocholism and poverty are more rampant than most can imagine. For the past few years I have actually been taking our kids to a camp for kids with special needs.
One of the reasons I do this is people generally come back from a trip with this, “This trip really opened my eyes…” kind of an attitude. And I think there is a lot more to be had. I think God offers service as a gift for us, and foir others. I think he has a redemptive plan for the whole world and one of the most exciting things I know of is participating in that plan…
Recently some friends were over and they had just heard a speaker who lives in a poor section of Philadelphia. It was an amazing story really; I wish I knew the guy’s name who spoke (journeyon.net I’m sure it’s on there somewhere). Anyway, one of my friends kepot talking about what great luxury we live in (and by we she meant herself, her husband, me, etc.), and she is totally correct – most of us do live in great luxury. The poverty line is right around 19,000 a household; even youth pastors are way above that!
But, I was thinking after she left – isn’t the idea greater than one of perspective? Perspective reminds me of the flip side of guilt. ‘A new perspective on my life’ seems to only work for a little while, and I often wonder (especially when people come back from a trip with ‘a new perspective’) if they didn’t miss part of the greater point. Now, don’t get me wrong here – a fresh dose of perspective can be a great thing (similar, again, to guilt); but, I think it can only be a great thing if it is accompanied by a true look at our life philosophy. What do we truly think about money, the real heart of that issue? Do we really care about poverty and the marginalized, and if so are we taking steps (not just financial) to help these problems?
I heard an amazing talk when I was a sophomore in college by a guy who is studying (now) to get his PHD in math so he can teach people how to teach math… Man, what a weird guy! Anyway, he said that when we are motivated by guilt (he had this circle graph too, it was awesome) we get passionate about doing or not doing something, until the guilt fades after a period of time. Then we are okay, until we are not okay and again confronted with this issue again. Because we stopped on account of guilt we have no real foundation for change, and we will slip again, feel bad again, stop whatever the problem was, but only until the guilt fades again.
I think it is similar with perspective. When we see things on the news, experience them on a trip or on accident or on the street we must consider whether our philosophy includes these problems. Every day we are engaging with amazing issues such as poverty, racism, classism, etc. When we are shocked and give some money away that is okay, but a true evaluation of the depth, breadth, and contents of our philosophy is much more powerful.
Wow… haven’t written this much in awhile. I think it is because my friend Patti is going to Cambodia for two years with the peace corps. I linked her blog; go read it. And, enjoy the picture of Caroline Kelton Blazer in the pink sweater her grandma sent!
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