skin in the game.

My boss shared this idea with me today.It is the principle that motivated him to devote the rest of his working days to helping poor people get a hand up in the world.Surprisingly, it’s not about giving people free stuff.It’s about dignity.It’s about leaving enough for people to take when they are willing to put a little skin in the game. Well worth the few minute read…In ancient Israel, God instituted the practice of gleaning as a way to feed the poor. A farmer would leave some of his crop in the fields, and afterward the poor (the fatherless, widows, foreigners) would gather the leftover crops for their own sustenance.*Vineyards, as well as fields of grain, were to be available for gleaning (see Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 24:20—21). The most well–known example of gleaning is found in the book of Ruth. To feed herself and her mother–in–law, Ruth “went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters…” (2:3).Gleaning was a command by God for those with productive resources to leave something extra so that the poor, through their own labor, could provide for themselves. Although the practice is no longer required for Christians, it provides an example that can be applied to the stewardship of our own resources.1. Leave some work for others — We no longer live in a society dominated by agriculture. Instead of working to create produce, most of us use our labor to produce goods and services in exchange for money. Because of our type of economic system, it isn’t always easy to see work we can leave for others. But by thinking creatively, we can often find a way to let the poor use their own labor to provide for their own needs. For example, while we might be capable of mowing our own lawn or cleaning our own home, paying someone less fortunate to do the work can be a viable way of applying the gleaning principle.2. Gleaning is better than a handout — You might ask, rather than pay someone to do work for us, why not just give them the money? Direct contributions can be a valid and efficient form of charity. But giving someone a handout deprives them of the value and dignity that can be gained from working and earning an income. God could have commanded landowners to simply collect the crops and give them to the poor; instead, he protected the dignity of the poor by requiring them to contribute their own labor.People who go through hardships and come out stronger on the other side aren’t those who get a free handout. They are the ones who are willing to take help and maintain their dignity in the midst of it. They don’t expect life to GIVE them anything, but they will take it if needed and just as eager to rise back to the level of self-sufficiency they enjoyed before, sometimes higher.This is what makes where I work so successful in moving people out of the crisis of poverty back into self-sufficiency. It’s a unique place with a unique idea of what constitutes true help for people who both need it and deserve it.Incidentally, bosses who share stuff like this out of the blue with their staffs are the kinds we need more of in this world.

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