My daughter Camille and I had the chance to go on a mission trip to Guatemala with a group from our church earlier this summer. We were working in the communities surrounding the Guatemala City dump. People scratch out their existence there scavenging for whatever they can recycle, sell, or make into something in the trash. It’s pretty overwhelming to think about, even more to experience firsthand.
One of the things we got to do there was put on a Father’s Day celebration for some of the men—to encourage them to stay involved in their families’ lives. A couple of us were asked to speak on fairly short notice. I prepared the best I could and the night of the event I had the chance to meet with some of the men over dinner before we spoke. One of them said something that has stuck with me and shaped what I said to the group that night. He said “I used to work at the dump. I have a job now. But I want you to know that working in the dump is honorable work.”
I told him I agreed, and that any work done unto God and in the interest of providing for your family is absolutely honorable work. It really drove home something they had been teaching us on the trip: There are many forms of poverty and lack of resources is just one of them—a person can also experience poverty of identity; poverty of dignity.
God dropped into my lap an opportunity to infuse some dignity into the lives of the men at the Father’s Day event. In my talk I told them what the one man had said to me and then emphatically told them “Don’t let anyone EVER tell you that working in the dump is not honorable work!”
I don’t tell this story to claim any credit, this opportunity was clearly a gift from God. But maybe you or someone you know is experiencing a poverty of dignity. Maybe it’s related to a job, or something else. Remember your identity is not in your job, or your house or your stuff. You were made in the image of God. If you know Jesus Christ, you are an adopted son or daughter of God. Embrace the dignity in your true identity!