Asset-Mapping, Ministry, and Parenting

Dear Reader,

In our adult Sabbath school class we are reading a book called When Helping Hurts on how to minister to the poor or needy. One of the principles in the book is that we must not simply throw resources at a need. It is better to cultivate the resources that are already in a person or community. The book uses the term asset-mapping to refer to the part of the process in which we find out what resources are already there. It makes complete sense to me that even asking these questions can help change the dynamic. It is no longer about “what can I as an outsider give you.” It becomes about “what can you do.” Not that we don’t then try to fill in the gaps but it becomes more about building up the needy person or community so that they can ultimately become self-sufficient (to the degree that any of us are self-sufficient which is perhaps another issue).

I wonder also how we can apply this principle to parenting. One of the few things I learned from Oprah in the days when I used to watch her show is that you should not do something for your kids that they can do for themselves. The example I remember her using is of running the bathwater for a child who is old enough to do it themselves. And it seems to me that this is basically asset-mapping too.

Sheila at To Love, Honor and Vacuum has a similar topic in her recent post on children growing up. She encourages us not to keep our children as children but to give them responsibilities and challenges so that they will become adults and not linger in adolescence. It seems to me that this is basically the same idea.  It is often easier of course to do things for our children or to expect less of them. Perhaps to say that they are children and should not have to deal with grown-up things. But isn’t our goal in the end to turn them into godly, competent, effective adults?

Nebby

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