Why Charity Can be a Bad Thing

Andy Stanley, the pastor son of Atlanta Pastor Charles Stanley, “preaches to an estimated 33,000 people every Sunday at North Point Ministries’ five metro-Atlanta campuses. His television program, ‘Your Move,’ is viewed by an audience of nearly one million each week.”

Andy Stanley has a new book out with the title How to be Rich. It’s a good effort because a lot of people with gobs of money don’t know how to use it or give it away. So I welcome anybody who can help people who have been monetarily blessed in this life to learn how not to be a lover of money and at the same time to understand the dangers of charitable giving.

“Generosity helps us make a concerted effort to keep the needs of others in the forefront of our thinking,” Stanley explains. “Rich people should not feel guilty, but we should feel responsible. We are called to be good stewards of the resources we have been privileged to manage.”

“Stanley is convinced that the biggest challenge facing rich people is that they have lost their ability to recognize that they are indeed rich, a point he has been known to be “uncomfortably bold” about emphasizing to his congregation which averages over 33,000 people weekly. “No matter where you stand on the economy, we live in the richest time of the richest nation in history,” he adds. “I wrote this book to help rich people get better at being rich. It is a general call to greater generosity and recognition of how much we all have.”

The biblical basis for Stanley’s sermon series and new book is found in 1 Timothy 6:18, which says, “to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” But what’s the best way to share? Should we just give money to those in need? Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to give money directly to someone because the need is immediate and dire.

But people who earn and control a lot of money need to be careful when they are called on to give in proportion to their great wealth. Charity, like welfare, can be a disincentive for people to work. I’ve seen it happen. People can become resentful when the money stops and they find themselves in the same condition when the charity began.

The poor are not immune to economic sins. A poor person can be as covetousness as a rich person. in some cases, even more so. Giving money to people and/or causes takes a lot of wisdom and a keen understanding of human nature. Money does not solve underlying problems a person may have. Consider this story:

“One day software engineer Patrick McConlogue was walking to work in New York City when he decided to make an unorthodox offer to a homeless man.

“He approached Leo Grand, who lives on the streets, and gave him a choice: $100, or a laptop and the opportunity to learn how to write computer code. Along with the second choice McConlogue pledged to spend an hour a day for two months teaching Grand a valuable job skill.

“‘I came to an immediate decision,’’ Grand told TODAY Monday. ‘The hundred dollars will last you for a short time. Learning how to code will last you for a lifetime.'”

Now that’s true giving. It’s the old give them a fish or teach them how to fish.

I contend that instead of giving money away, rich people should start businesses that train and employ the needy. Millionaires and billionaires create jobs. Governments don’t create jobs. Sure, millions of people make a fine living by working for the government, but that money comes from the private sector.

Consider Ben and Jerry’s PartnerShop Program:

The Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop Program is a form of social enterprise, in which nonprofit organizations leverage the power of business for community benefit.

PartnerShops are Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops that are independently owned and operated by community-based nonprofit organizations. Ben & Jerry’s waives the standard franchise fees and provides additional support to help nonprofits operate strong businesses.

PartnerShops offer job and entrepreneurial training to youth and young adults that may face barriers to employment. Ultimately, they help people build better lives.

The people at Ben & Jerry’s know how to make money. It doesn’t matter that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are liberal. (In April 2000, Ben & Jerry’s sold the company to British-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever.) The company’s example is something to follow. “Go and do likewise” if you are a guilt-ridden rich person. Don’t give your money to a profligate government or to people or organizations that don’t have a plan to turn poverty into productivity.