Paternalism is a result of faulty views of poverty (broken relationships). Paternalism can be summed up as doing things for people that they can do for themselves. In a paternalistic relationship there is a parental figure, often the non-materially poor, and a child figure, often the materially poor. Paternalism reinforces unhealthy self-images of all involved, and yet we can fall into these roles often unknowingly. Paternalism can strip a community of its initiative and create dependence on outsiders. It can have long term harmful consequences to a community. For the Love of Missions has at times fallen into every one of the following types of paternalism. We repent and continually resist the urge to come to the table with a paternalistic mindset. It is important to note that these roles can be reinforced by both parts of the relationship. Often because of past relationships, assumptions are made that reinforce the parent role of the non- materially poor and the child role of those living in the materially poor community. Read these brief descriptions to see if you have tendencies toward any of these forms of paternalism.
Resource Paternalism – Assuming the solution to a problem is outside resources rather than existing community resources.
Spiritual Paternalism – Believing we have been better equipped for the teaching and preaching and forget to listen to and learn from the deep relationships with God that are present in all cultures and communities.
Knowledge Paternalism – Believing the knowledge and information we have from our culture, economy, experiences is applicable and should be accepted rather than acknowledging people in every culture have valuable insights into their own experiences.
Labor Paternalism – doing the work of a project that people could do for themselves. For example, a mission team building a home while the family who will live in it watch.
Managerial Paternalism – Assuming the management position rather than looking for leadership in the local community. This often results from our desire for speed and efficiency and can greatly undermine the local leadership.