Toxic Charity has been extremely enlightening for me in regards to charities. Robert Lupton has brought up several points that have never crossed my mind. Due to my age I would not say that I have a charity(s) that I regularly give to but I am thankful for the issues discussed in this book because there is no doubt in my mind that I be able to use them in my life down the road. After reading this book I feel that I am more inspired perform charitable work rather than back away from it.
It is pretty obvious to see Lupton’s church background play out in his stories and beliefs towards charities and this makes it easy for me to relate to the book. I see the overall theme of the book revealed very early on, “But rock stars and church groups are not the only ones leading with their hearts rather than sound reason and intellect”(p.35). As I continued to read I saw that Lupton very clearly identifies what God has called us to as followers of Christ. Aspects of this include having a heart that overflows with compassion for the needy, and this is where charitable work takes root. But Lupton tells us how “unexamined generosity” (p.21) can lead to this idea of charity being toxic. Through his writing we can plainly see that God has given us hearts of compassion but we cannot just ignore the fact that he has also given us a brain! In Lupton’s examples he points out key mistakes where groups of people are just giving blindly. The thought, idea, motive, and even the action are never meant for the worse but that is what ends up happening so often when Church groups and non-profits decide they will take the initiative to make the world a “better place” while at the same time ignoring their ability to problem solve on a practical level.
When it comes down to it there is a initial relationship in charitable work. After reading Toxic Charity I am seeing the weight behind the previous statement. Lupton says, “Cure without care is like a gift given from a cold heart” (p.51). After I read this statement I began to think about any and all charitable work that I knew of. I could not help but notice that so many of them, myself included, just throw money at someone without even knowing who they are, what they need, and why they are in a state of need. In this way we do not help them, we hurt them by forcing them to be beggars. They no longer have a need, they have a dependence, and the dependence is on you or whoever the “giving hand” is. This paints a twisted and perverted picture of charitable work and is no where close to what it was originally intended to be. Even though this problem is widespread there are still some organizations that are striving to do charitable work in the right way as Lupton describes throughout the book. The way that Lupton portrayed these organizations makes me want to search out and find others like them. Instead of just seeing a charity that looks good on the outside, or gives to something that interests me, I will be looking deeper into the works of what the organization does.
On page 44 Lupton talks about his friend John that he regularly meets for coffee. During this time John usually asks a question he has been pondering on to see if Lupton has any wisdom to offer up in return. John is known as a supporter of several charitable organizations and causes but the key point I took away is that he puts in the extra effort of following up with each individual organization. He will consistently ask for documents and financial forms that show to him and prove that his money and resources are being used in the way that he intended them to be used. This is a simple task that anyone and everyone can take part in to insure that they are not blindly handing out their resources.