“A team is only as strong as its weakest link.” I believe the same is true for a family, a business, and the society of our nation. But do we really adhere to this old adage?
What if we did? What if we actually built the house of our nation—the family that America once was—not from a top-down power structure but from a bottom-up form of empowerment?
Let me be clear, this is not a “share the pot” system to divide wealth and create dependence, but a plan to give belonging, vision, purpose and worth to those who are struggling to flourish. This is an exercise of our free market, but requires a measure of servant leadership. Through such, we can take the strengths of our capitalism and actually multiply those strengths by empowering those in a state of economic “weakness.” This will build the foundation of our house and see the investment recycled back up through the rest of culture over time.
We have lived and worked among some of the greatest poverty in the world. During our three years in Ethiopia a majority of our time was spent working with those living on the streets, in orphan homes or in poor rural areas. One particular story greatly reformed the ways we cared for those in need. There is an Ethiopian custom while eating the cultural food called “gousha.” Instead of using the spongy staple of Injera to pick up a bite of veggies, meat or sauce to feed yourself, when you “gousha” someone you pick up a bite and feed them. Here we were taking some of the poorest kids in one of the most impoverished nations out to a nice café for lunch—some of whom hadn’t eaten in more than twenty-four hours—and you would think they would be most excited about a full meal for their empty bellies. But in reality, what brought them the most joy was when we allowed them to “gousha” or feed us.
Think about that; these nearly starving kids got more worth out of giving food than they did feasting for themselves. That was where we saw change begin.
See, their empty stomach’s weren’t at the heart of their poverty, rather, their true poverty could be found in their desire for belonging among those who love and believe in them and the worth that comes when you have something to give. We won’t change economic need by always making someone a recipient—that’s just dependence. Instead, we prove their intrinsic value by empowering them to have something to give. That puts the onus on us and how we give to them.
Perhaps you have seen the illustration of the pack of wolves walking through a snowy wilderness. The pack travels in a line, but it’s the most vulnerable who are out in front, setting the pace. The five strongest wolves follow next, protecting them from attack. Then you have a stable, fully protected group in the middle, who precede the next five strongest wolves who help strengthen and protect the pack from behind. And finally, in the back we find the leader—the one with the most influence. The lead wolf is not out in front but is serving, caring and leading the whole pack, family or team from behind—strengthening everyone from this position! This is what a “family structure” looks like.
And, this is can show us a socioeconomic model of how we build our house, family or nation from the bottom up. For leaders or those with the most influence it is not about being in power, but using such position or influence to empower others. We need those in our country who are strong economically not merely to be taxed more, but to lead the way in giving more through a socioeconomic empowerment model that still facilitates a free market, while also freely giving to build the rest of the “house” as well.
Socialism seeks to conform the top to the bottom. Capitalism can create tremendous separation between the two, unless, we make our capitalism our servant instead of our master and use it to empower and build the family of our nation from the bottom, up.
Joseph LeTourneau and family
"We can take the strengths of our capitalism and actually multiply those strengths by empowering those in a state of economic “weakness.” This will build the foundation of our house and see the investment recycled back up through the rest of culture over time." - Joseph LeTourneau