How To Respond to Panhandlers

Don't Miss These 4 Things in Determining a Great Response!

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What is the best way to respond to pan handlers? You know, the people that we see would pull off the highway, and they're down at the bottom of the exit ramp, and they have the cardboard sign that says, 'God Bless'-- 'Will Work for Food-- 'Help, Stranded'. What is the best way to respond to them? We see these situations, and we're moved with compassion to maybe do something, but we're just not sure what the best way to help is.

Well, if we're going to formulate a response on the best way to respond to people who are asking basically for a handout for money. One of the first things that we need to realize is that panhandlers are kind of a relic, if you will, of a bygone era. That's something that popped up back when there were very few resources to help people who had needs. And it's kind of carried over. And we carry over those assumptions into today's world.

And so the first thing that we need to realize is we formulate a response to people that we like. This is that there are already lots of resources, especially here in the United States, to available to help people with needs. There is emergency housing, there is shelter, there are hot meals, there are food. There are so many resources that we have right now that would address their need. And yet here they are by the side of the road asking for money to help them with their needs.

So the assumption that we have behind the problem is false. We're kind of assuming that this is their last resort, and it's not really their last resort in many cases. So the second thing that we need to realize is we begin formulating a response to somebody when we're moved to help them is that if we give the money, we're probably hurting them. What I mean by that is, at a minimum, we're subsidizing an approach for them that says, you know what? You're going to be dependent on others and you're going to stay dependent on others.

And I'm going to help you stay dependent on others and in your situation by giving you money. So we really need to ask yourself what's the long term result if I help this person today, where is their help going to come from tomorrow? And if I do it this way, it's probably going to be the same way they're going to be back by the side of the road. It doesn't really move them forward. And I'm not saying we don't want to be compassionate, and I'll get to that in a minute.

But also we need to realize that maybe at worst, we're also subsidizing an alcohol habit or a drug habit or even a scam. So that leads me to my third point, as we think about formulating responses. There's a lot of abuse in panhandling, because, again, the need is not really there in the same way that it used to be there's so much abuse. I remember not too long ago coming home from work and I would see a guy at an intersection at a stop light, begging for money, same guy every day.

And depending when I came home one day I would come home and I'd see him begging.

And if I came home a little bit later the next day, I would see him walking from the convenient that was right across the street. Home with a white bag hanging in his hand, had a 40 ounce of beer in it. So putting two and two together, he was getting a little bit of cash and then walking into Convenient every day and getting his beer for the day and then walking home need to realize that there's even worse abuse, subsidizing drug habits, or even worse. Some people are just scamming others again because there are resources to help them.

What they're asking for is not really what they're asking help for.

If you get what I mean, people can get a lot of money, actually, by panhandling. So what I want to finish with is we talk about the best way to responses. As we formulate a response. We need to realize that these people, no matter their motivation, no matter why they're asking for money, there are humans who have a deeper need. They need a deeper level of help.

We could go the other way after hearing this information and go, you know what? I'm not going to subsidize somebody in that lifestyle. I'm just going to turn my head the other way and ignore them, and I'm going to feel good about that. Or worse, we're going to develop this reaction towards them is, oh, that's so awful. They're playing on people's sympathies.  They should get lost. Get out of here, scammers. And it doesn't really matter why they're asking for help for us to say, no, I'm not going to respond that way either. What we need to do is learn to work at a deeper level of need. So this person has a deeper level of need if they're in a mental health situation than they need a way to connect with a mental health resource.

Maybe they need a relationship. Maybe they need a friendship. Maybe they need somebody to walk alongside them to show you know what? There's a different way than the way you're living now. And it's a better way.

It's a way that you'll feel better about yourself. You'll have agency. Maybe they need accountability. Maybe they need someone to hold them accountable to say, you know what? I care enough about you to hold you accountable, to say you're not going to do it.

You're not going to operate this way. There is a better way to live and to offer that to them. Sometimes the harder thing to do would be to offer a relationship than just open our wallet and put a few dollars in there or hand them a water bottle or whatever. So what I'm saying to you today is learn to look at people panhandlers no matter who they are with a deeper level need. Don't define them by that need and don't necessarily judge them for that need.

But go to the deeper level. And so you know, H, how would this person be helped? Listen, whether you're an individual who wants to help people in need or even you want to start a Ministry or you work within a Church and you want to develop a Ministry that helps people in need. Or maybe you already have a Ministry that helps people in need and you want to learn how to do it better. I have a course coming up called Kingdom Compassion.

It is a course or I've taken my whole decade of coaching people how to work with people in need and how to help them effectively, how to help them with a hand up, not a handout. How to work in a transformative way so that people come up and out of their situations all the way from the philosophy behind it to how to actually do it, that's all going to be in this upcoming Kingdom Compassion course. And if you get on the list and the links down below for when that course releases, I'll also send you a free checklist.  That is the four secrets to working in effective meeting needs Ministry. It's a good checklist.
It's going to tell you some things to look for, to check. Check off from the people you're working with to your team, to where you're going to get the resources, all of these kinds of questions, your tools. You're going to use a great checklist free to you just for getting on the list. So I hope you get on that again. Links down below.

Make sure you like and subscribe... and I am Bruce. I'll see you next time.

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Copyright - Bruce Colbert