Poverty Begins & Ends with a Mindset

Non-profit organizations around the globe work to benefit those in poverty. While there are various forms of aid available, the programs do not appear to be equal in bringing lasting results. Long-term results are what we must aim for.

Most organizations target short-term relief that will not end poverty in an area, but rather alleviate a certain need at a certain time. These programs will give people things for free, such as food or money.

Instead of handing out food, money, or goods to the poor, it is better to train people to have a strong work ethic, to be excellent stewards of their finances, to be generous in a Biblical way, and other leadership topics that come directly from the Bible.

Why must we be so insistent on not giving away things for free? Because handouts create dependency upon foreign aid. The goal is not to foster dependency, but to enable those who are impoverished to make a difference in their own lives and choose to prosper by becoming internally motivated and financially stable.

In Proverbs 6, Solomon writes a lesson he has taken from observing the ant:

When you’re feeling lazy,
come and learn a lesson from this tale of the tiny ant.
Yes, all you lazybones, come learn
from the example of the ant and enter into wisdom.
7 The ants have no chief, no boss, no manager—
no one has to tell them what to do.
8 You’ll see them working and toiling all summer long,
stockpiling their food in preparation for winter.
9 So wake up, sleepyhead. How long will you lie there?
When will you wake up and get out of bed?
10 If you keep nodding off and thinking, “I’ll do it later,”
or say to yourself, “I’ll just sit back awhile and take it easy,”
just watch how the future unfolds!
11 By making excuses you’ll learn what it means to go without.
Poverty will pounce on you like a bandit
and move in as your roommate for life.
Proverbs 6:6-11 TPT

Verse 11 is about poverty. This is not the lack of money—rather, it is a mindset that results in a lack of money! Instead of giving food or money, which only meets a temporary need in an endless cycle of need, we must aim to help people change their thinking so that they can eliminate the needs they face. We attempt to change the way that people think, which will change the way that they act. This means that education is a permanent solution to poverty.

If a person living in poverty wins the lottery, which means more money than most will dream of, in just six months’ time, they will most likely be in a situation worse than the one they found themselves in before they had any money at all. You can give a poor person loads of money, but the problem really isn’t whether or not the person has money—it’s whether or not they know what to do with it. They don’t know how to manage it once it gets into their hands—that’s why they don’t have any money.

On the other hand, take a person that has made themselves rich through good business practices and smart financial handling, and take all of their money away. In a matter of time, they’ll be right back on top again, financially. Why? Because you didn’t take away the skills and abilities to make money—just the money itself. Being financially fit is a mindset—a way of thinking, acting, and speaking. So it is with the mentality of poverty—it is a way of thinking, acting, and speaking. No matter what happens to the poor man, if you give him money, he will inevitably lose it again.

This is why handouts don’t work. Our own eyes have shown us that handouts, like the lottery, make people poorer than ever. In the remote places of Kenya, where foreign aid abounds, the people have quit sowing and tilling their land. They simply sit and wait for the UN to come around and feed them. This is ultimately a great disservice to these people, who have the capability to produce for themselves and create a strong economy right where they live, but instead, wait for foreign aid and, due to lack of farming, live in worse circumstances than they were in before.

After training in our Bible schools, pastors go out and make changes in their communities. They teach their people what they have learned and the effect is tremendous. They have altered entire communities and together with the people, have brought these communities out of poverty. After taking our classes or learning from a student that has, people have started businesses, opened schools to educate children, and the overall living conditions have improved in a drastic way.

This is why training and educating people to have the gospel of Jesus Christ as the foundation for everything that they do is the answer. Part of believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ is to do the work of training others in the lessons that the Bible teaches.

In Matthew chapter 28, verses 12 through 20 (TPT), Jesus gives the Great Commission:

Then Jesus came close to them and said, “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. 19 Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 20 And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.

We should all aim to educate people with Biblical principles in all areas of life in order to help them out of poverty or other financial problems. Teaching internal motivation, work ethics, and good stewardship of finances is the way it’s done. To change a person’s thinking is a greater challenge than giving out goods or money for free, but the results are far greater and last much longer. This kind of change will impact generations.