So you know when you see a needy person holding a cardboard sign? We tend to feel awkward and look away. At the Life Center, we teach people how to interact with and serve the needy, so that we are spurred on to connect with them and meet them where they’re at.
BEING AWKWARDLY VULNERABLE
Many of us project a positive, successful image to others despite our struggles. However, keeping up appearances can prevent us from serving others well. Those with fewer resources—those who can’t hide their brokenness with money or behind closed doors—can become “less than” in our minds. At the Life Center, we fight against this tendency by being awkwardly vulnerable with each other. We admit we’re all a little needy, which allows us to serve others with humility.
At the Life Center, we want every interaction to be “sprinkled with salt” so that all who enter our doors leave thirsty for Jesus. This means we pursue relationship with each person, meet them where they are, and intentionally point to Jesus in word and action. We want people to “taste” the difference that Jesus makes in the lives of those who follow Him.
We recognize that each economic class has its own cultural rules, values, and worldview. At times, these differing values can cause culture clashes between groups. Someone experiencing poverty, for example, is in “survival mode” and views time, money, and relationships much differently than someone in the middle or wealthy class. We strive to understand and bridge these cultures, believing that each group has something valuable to learn from the other.
FIGHTING “FIX-IT MODE”
Many of us are tempted to jump into “fix-it mode” when asked for help. However, listening and asking questions is often the best place to start! Allowing someone to share their story not only honors them but also helps us gather appropriate tools to support their growth. When we slow down to listen, we also begin to see the individual as a person—not as a list of problems to fix.
RECOGNIZING OUR OWN NEED
We often think of “needy people” as those lacking food, clothing, or shelter. At the Life Center, we’re learning there are many types of poverty: relational, spiritual, emotional, and more. We all experience need in our lives, meaning that we’re all on equal footing—whether we’re helping someone else or being helped ourselves.
Phrases like “Get a job!” or “Why don’t you find a house already?” can be crippling to those seeking help. At the Life Center, we understand that success looks different for each person—not everyone is meant to climb the corporate ladder or live in a house with a white picket fence! No matter where a client is in their journey, our goal is to ensure they can sustain themselves without relying on us for survival. This means we are constantly trying to work ourselves out of a job!
Many of us—especially followers of Jesus—want to help without bounds. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned desire can cause us to cripple the very person we are trying to support. At the Life Center, we believe that showing love and setting limits are not in opposition to each other! Rather, we implement boundaries because we love people. Expressing expectations allows us to avoid miscommunication and empowers our clients to actively participate in their own growth.
We believe God instituted the idea of work, and that it is good and healthy. We also realize that people, especially those experiencing need, feel most respected when they are not receiving a handout. So, whether you’re volunteering or earning items through our Work-2-Earn program, we want you to experience the benefits of work. We pray the resulting sense of accomplishment and self-worth will encourage growth in other areas of life!
Because it’s what we’re called to do. It’s as simple as that.