Unwanted Lessons From Helping Someone

Last year I met a guy who was asking for money. I met a few of them actually. This one was different, he was willing to cut the yard for it.

I once asked Bill, one of the homeless ministry leaders, how to tell the difference between a panhandler and someone that truly was in need. He said those truly in need are willing to work for the money. This gentleman came often enough that this year I told him to come over twice a month to cut the yard and I’d pay him for it.

When there was no work to be done, we would help him with food, money, gift cards.

Then one day he ran over my water hose. I gave him the opportunity to own up. He apologized.

I noticed he was cutting quite a few yards and was happy he had more income coming in. We let him use our gas one day to finish the neighbor lady’s yard. Another day he asked to borrow our mower to cut a yard just down the street since his had broken.

That’s fine. Replace the gas you use.

He agreed.

Then I didn’t see my mower for days. I started to get angry but was willing to give him a chance to explain himself. He brought it back when I wasn’t there.

And he took it when I wasn’t there.

It went on for days until he came back when I was there.

My anger increased.

We had a discussion about not taking people’s things, and disrespecting people’s boundaries. Then I fired him.

It bothered me the rest of the day. I don’t like being angry or confrontational. I didn’t yell, though I wanted to.

There are some lessons in this:

  • God honors your generosity. What they do with it is on them.
  • Don’t be naive, though.
  • Have and enforce boundaries.
  • Individuals will let you down, don’t give up on people in general.
  • Trust your wife’s instincts. Casey said he’s starting to take advantage of us.

Being more compassionate, I have to guard against being taken advantage of and not just defaulting to never trusting anyone.

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