As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s getting easier to set priorities in my life. Some of the things I used to deem important just don’t mean that much to me anymore. And some things that I never valued are priceless to me now. I guess that’s part of maturing.

20 years ago I didn’t know much about global poverty…and therefore I didn’t care about being part of the solution. It wasn’t a priority to me. Today, having witnessed firsthand the suffering of children in developing countries…having heard their tummies growl…and having seen the lack of hope in their sullen eyes, I do care. It’s a priority to me now.

So when I read an online article in the Denver Post from a college student trying to explain why he would rather spend $1,000 on his dog than $51 to feed a starving child on the other side of the world, I took it personally. It was an attack on one of my priorities, after all.  But then I’m reminded that I was in the same place when I was his age.

We’ve still got a long way to go, don’t we? There’s plenty of work to be done, teaching the world that caring for the poor is not an option–it’s an obligation. It’s a mandate from God himself.  

And one hurdle is convincing our neighbors, family and friends that they don’t have to choose between caring for their loved ones…and caring for those on the other side of the world. Those two are not mutually exclusive. We are called to do both.

So my message to the college student–and for those of you who are also struggling with where to set your priorities: do both. You can give hope to a child in poverty and take care of your dog–or your family–at the same time. You don’t have to choose between the two.  You can make both a priority.  Indeed, we are called to do just that.

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    Becky October 3, 2009

    I just read that story about loving your dog more and it struck me. My family has three dogs and while we love them like family, my parents do not see being charitable and taking care of their dogs as mutually exclusive. One dog had a kidney infection recently, which needed many tests, several days at the vet, and special food/medicine for several weeks. I don’t think my parents are wrong for doing that, but I would think it becomes wrong if they felt donating to charitable causes, which aid those far away from them, was wrong.

    I don’t recall who wrote it, but there was a mention on this blog about how far is your hill from an area Compassion helped which compared the differences between rich people on a hill above a slum area vs Americans whose houses on a hill are much farther away. Clearly, we all are geographically far removed from the children Compassion assists, but that doesn’t stop us from being passionate about helping them. I think it is quite sad that people know of major problems in the world and are indifferent towards them when they can afford to help.

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