Well, okay, there are a few jerks out there who will openly tell you they don’t care. Some of them will even ridicule you for caring. But it’s amazing how much the “care” increases when you ask. I mean people who drive right past a bum asking for spare change on a street corner as they head off to church will arrive there and raise their hand with the rest of the crowd when you ask “Who Cares?”. Let’s call these folks jerks and novices.
But then there are those who really show concern and join a group – a ministry group, a class, or take in a lecture or read a book. Some of these people join benevolent organizations and put in time and energy to raise money, raise awareness, and/or actually serve people by supplying actual goods and services. Among those people, some go on to head up relief organizations and become professionals in the field. Some of them go on to write books, give lectures, lead seminars and so on. We will call these the experts.
Some other people find themselves simply moved deep in their hearts to care AND to do something. These people may go on to join the ranks of volunteers and professionals, but a lot of them do not. They simply feel called to do what they can. Most of these folks give a few dollars when they have it to give, but for them even a few dollars can be a real sacrifice, since these folks are very nearly needy themselves (or may have experienced a season of neediness in their lives that left an impression on them). A few of them, however, turn their calling into an exhausting ministry that may involve cooking, gathering blankets/clothes and distributing them, and the workload can become as heavy as a second fulltime job. Let’s categorize these as the called.
If we wanted to, I am sure we could articulate at least a couple more categories of people here, but this should suffice for this post. And except for the jerks I mention above, all the rest of these people, it seems, care. Right?
Well, let me split a few hairs here, and then you decide.
Among those in the last paragraph, the called, most find giving to be its own reward. They rarely get attention for their efforts, little help, and almost no cooperation with organizations or individuals. In fact, the experts may very well shun them and say they have gone rogue. The called get no paycheck, no donations (or precious few if they do), no speaking fees, no book sales or recognition. They give simply out of the goodness of their hearts and often over the objections of others.
For those among the called, giving is typically sacrificial – sometimes deeply sacrificial. Risks are taken. Money given. Strangers taken in. Hitchhikers picked up. Sometimes, perhaps often, when the called make themselves vulnerable to those to whom they are called, they get burned – robbed, burgled, assaulted, lied to, taken advantage of, and everything in between. Sometimes these folks grow embittered by it all and stop answering their calling, but a few of them cannot imagine their lives any other way, and they “never learn”. They might even feel foolish for living out their calling, and this sometimes ensures they keep their giving quiet, for speaking of it invites ridicule. And anyway, as Jay Schadler on ABC News said back in the mid 1990’s when he hitchhiked across America, “It isn’t Cadillacs and fine sedans that pick you up on the side of the road; it’s jalopies and well-worn pick up trucks that do that”.
You likely haven’t heard of them.
The category I am calling experts is a broad one. Many are simple volunteers, but you don’t volunteer long before you acquire a lot of uncommon and remarkable experiences that sooner or later you will likely be called upon to share at a seminar or maybe even on a TV camera. So even though there may be varying degrees of expertise, I am going to lump them together, and anyway, volunteers answer to the executives and book writers. They are all on the same team.
And these experts find it important to do things wisely and effectively. For one thing, you really want to believe that the work you do makes a worthwhile difference, but for another, you need to impress others in order to fundraise and sell books. The volunteers are trained to follow certain rules and policies intended to serve these purposes as well, and certainly the big shots that they answer to want to sell books and lead seminars and raise lots of money.
These experts tend to dream big. And they do a lot. They organize assets, people, budgets, resources and then mobilize them too. In the process, real goods and services are offered to truly needy people, some of them on a grand scale. And we should be thankful for every blessing bestowed on every needy person they serve.
Yet, the experts make it a point not to risk, or at least to minimize it. A good deal of the wisdom they offer is devoted to risk-management. They also make a point to call attention to themselves (and/or their organizations), otherwise how can they raise money or sell books? They have advertising concerns, bureaucratic concerns, safety and risk-management concerns, and self-promotion concerns jumbled together with their concern for the poor and needy. Even if we call their giving sacrificial, which certainly it is in various ways from time to time, the giving is almost never its own reward. On the contrary, for a lot of the experts, the giving is a way to earn notoriety and money – and sometimes quite a lot of either or both.
Who’s to say how much of their concern is for themselves and how much for the needy? But when I ask “Who cares?”, perhaps we could have this perspective. And maybe, just maybe, those answering the call in their lives give more, give more godly, and maybe, just maybe, as foolish as that is, it is the wisdom of God.
So… Who Cares?