Social Work and Social Justice, Repost

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The following is a repost from 2008, updated. I’m still asking the same questions, but my questions have more depth and experience within them. Am I the only one who asks these questions, and do you think there are answers?

In my process to figure out my calling I’ve thought much about becoming a full-time social worker. Although I’m realizing that social work takes many forms. So what is social work exactly? It is the same as social justice?

Just last week I heard about a woman whose Dad taught her to smoke crack. That ticks me off. She hates him for it, yet she still smokes with him on occasion. It makes her miserable because she doesn’t like the way she views herself because of doing this. So why does she still make the decision to use the drug? Is it because as much as she believes that her dad is a terrible dad, she still wants some sort of love and respect from him? Things that he will never give her.

I translate for the John School, a court-ordered program for men who have been arrested soliciting prostitution. Now that brings many stories, but the one of interest is the woman who talks to them about her former life as a prostitute. She will tell you that she would do whatever it took to fulfill her need for drugs. Then she continues to say that what she was really looking for was love and acceptance, which she thought came from drugs, then men, but those didn’t fill the emptiness in her life. She wanted to be needed, and her transition out of prostitution taught her that she could find love without using drugs or giving her body.

Then there are those who have mental illnesses and can’t care for themselves,or those who have been abused so badly they don’t have the physical ability to trust, and those who have made so many bad decisions in their life that their choices leave them always wanting.

How many stories are there? Too many too think about. Where is justice for people whose lives have brought them experiences that many of us don’t want to consider? Can I as a social worker bring justice, or is it just a Band-Aid?

If Christ brings true justice, and I do my best to love people in a way that brings Christ to them, I believe that is pursuit of justice. But quite often I will be doing no more than allowing certain people to make it to the next day in their lives. Where is the justice in that?

Justice ,


  1. I thought about getting into social work for a while, but it just wasn't my calling. I think it really takes a unique person. I wonder a lot about the stories too. So many different levels of neglect and abuse, but all just as hurtful to whoever is in the midst of them. Funny, this subject has been on my heart for a while.

    • kylajoyful

      I think you can be a "social worker" without going into that career field. Maybe a social worker is just a person who gets paid to give people dignity? Just throwing out ideas here.

  2. DrT

    It is a bandaid, all movements/actions are. I am not being cynical, just realistic. The point being is that on a system level, it is probably not a dramatic world-changing career or action. However, we arent called to be system changers. We arent called to change everything and everybody, only God can do that. We are called to let the Love and Grace flow through us like wind, or ruah, or Spirit. By having heart reactions to those kind of situations, you make a change. By allowing God to touch that person through you, you make a movement. If enough of us Christians/believers/travellers (the title is unimportant) did that, the movement would have momentum. If that momentum is attractive, others will join, and that God can use to create change.

    • kylajoyful

      I like that you point out others will join. It's a community effort, for all people, and we are called to participate.

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