My Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool
Why is giving such a challenge for us? If I think that I’m about to be suckered or if I think you will take advantage of me, then, of course, I will raise my guard. Maybe I’m not certain where my money is going. Maybe you saw the recent news about the GoFundMe account that was set up to supposedly assist homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt. It appears that Kate McClure, Mark D’Amico and Mr. Bobbitt had intended to commit fraud. And, it’s not GoFundMe’s fault. People are going to find ways to manipulate and twist good things into bad no matter what they are. But I would caution you to…
Guard Against Cynicism
I was traveling a few weeks ago and had stopped into a fast food place to grab a sandwich on my way back to the hotel. As I go inside, I’m standing in line and there are only one or two people in front of me. I order my sandwich and I’m in line waiting to pay.
While I’m waiting, this younger gent comes in – I’d say he’s in his 20s, and he has this brochure in his hand. He approaches the woman who was in front of me as she’s leaving and they exchange a few words, not very animated, soft tones, and he moves in towards me. I’m thinking, “Okay, this is easy. I don’t live here so when he tells me about the event next door that’s happening next week, I’ll be like ‘Sorry, I don’t live here and won’t be in town next week.’ and that will be the end of it.”
You Don’t Know The Answer Before You Hear The Question
Or maybe he’s going to ask me if I have a job with a little fringe tear-off and I can call him to put him to work tomorrow. Or maybe he’s got his price list for his sunglasses for sale on the table around the corner. Now notice what I’m doing. I have NO idea what this gent is going to approach me with, but I’ve decided that I know and I know I’m not interested. And here’s an important point.
When it comes to the ask, stop acting like you know whether you should or shouldn’t before the words even come out of someone’s mouth. You likely have no idea what they are going to say, so stop being unreceptive until you hear them out.
So I’ve got my list of excuses…except my list didn’t include one for what he wanted to talk about. His 10-year-old nephew had been shot and killed earlier that weekend, caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting. Another innocent paying the full price for someone else’s stupidity. So what was the young man doing in the restaurant? What was his soft-spoken request?
He was trying to raise money for the family to pay for the funeral expenses. His handwritten paper told the story and, in true marketing fashion, at the bottom were three options: $25, $50 or $75 dollars. No write-in, no $5 option, just an expectation that if you were taking the time to read, you would take the time to give.
He was right. I gave. Not $25, $50, or $75 – I gave him the only $5 bill I had in my wallet. He didn’t reject it. Instead, he thanked me for my kindness with a fist-bump and then disappeared out the door into the dark.
The story was real – it was all over the news. The shop manager didn’t seem bothered by his presence. And there certainly wasn’t anyone to vouch for him or confirm his supposed connection to the child or the family. It’s entirely possible that I was scammed. Who knows. Here’s what I do know: I’m not going to let my heart get to a place where it’s so hard that I won’t be open to the suffering of another person.
So this is the point:
You Have To Work To Stay Vulnerable
There’s a lot of wrongdoing out there. And if you think someone is just waiting to take advantage of you, you’re right. Likewise, if you think someone is out there that sincerely needs your help, you are also right. Imagine rejection after giving your heart to another. It’s risky to put yourself out there again but that risk pays off massively in terms of a life filled with joy and love.
It’s not easy though. I’m embarrassed to tell you this story, but I’m going to anyway at the risk of you thinking I’m a cold-hearted mean guy. I’m not – but I am going to show you the juxtaposition. It was AFTER the event in the sandwich shop that this occurred. Not several years, not several months. Days, maybe a week or two…
It’s not unusual for me to work late. When I’m traveling for work, it’s easy for me to just keep going and miss a meal. Many of you listening know what I’m talking about. Skipping meals isn’t wise, and at the same time, sometimes missing a meal while traveling isn’t the worst thing.
On this particular day, I didn’t eat lunch. Things were busy in the office and I usually try to have a half-way decent bar in my bag for just such an occasion….which if I’m honest, happens more than occasionally! Otherwise, I wouldn’t pack a protein bar around in my bag. Anyhow, I missed lunch. We worked late and the hotel is a short walk from the office.
I drop my stuff at the hotel, I’m looking at my watch, and I’m thinking, okay, it’s about a five-minute walk to the place that’s going to close at 9P and it’s like 850P, so I’m like “perfect, I’ll just barely make it.” So I go get my massive American burrito (because nothing in small in America) and I’m walking back to the hotel.
There are homeless people and panhandlers in most cities. They feature more prominently in some locations than others. I’ve traveled a lot for most of the last 20 years and I think what surprises me the most is their presence in cold temperatures. That is heartbreaking to me.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – How’s The Temp Inside
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we can allow it to get cold inside…inside our hearts, right?!
So on the way to grab my burrito, the thought crosses my mind, that I’m going to have to choose what I do if I encounter one of these folks on the way back to the hotel. It doesn’t matter to me what you call it, but I’m a Christ-follower and I know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. And this, this is definitely that voice. It’s not commanding or demanding, but it is convicting (not condemning).
So I’m thinking okay, if I encounter a homeless person, I’ll act and hand over my burrito. So get this. It’s not a long walk to the restaurant, it’s several blocks. I get all the way back to the intersection where my hotel is…and…just before the intersection, there he is. The huddled mass of individual humanity sitting in a pile of coat, blanket and whatever else he can find to fight the temps.
And I got a little upset. If you know the voice I’m talking about, I started arguing. But there wasn’t a counter argument. There was no “thus saith the Lord, give thy burrito to thy neighbor.” Nope. Here’s what I heard. “I didn’t tell you to give your burrito. There is no question of obedience here.” So by now, I’ve crossed the street with my precious and headed to the Lobby. And I’m like “right, so let me eat my dang burrito in peace, GOSH!”
Do What You Know To Do
And I hear this deep in my spirit: “You don’t need me to tell you to do good to someone. When you do it, you can trust that you are simply reflecting My goodness to you.” It’s moving to me even as I recount this to you – I am so grateful for God’s goodness – not His blessings, His goodness! So by this time, it’s clear that the choice is mine. I’m in the elevator headed up to my room. I don’t know. I’m on the 24th floor or something. I get up there and I’m like “how am I going to eat this thing?”
I’m not wondering if I’m going to eat tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I’m not wondering if I’m going to eat three times tomorrow. It’s mine if I want it. But somehow, I don’t think that this is the world that the gentleman on the street is living in. He is wondering. Not just about food, but about where he’s going to sleep tonight, maybe if he’ll live through the night. Maybe wishing he wouldn’t.
It’s an easy decision now. I head back down. The elevator takes an eternity to get to the Lobby. I’m on a mission now, right?! I head out of the Lobby to the sidewalk. Make sure I’ve got napkins and a fork in the bag – the hotel is full of them, the street not so much. I get to the intersection and I’m worrying a little. The little mass of man is missing.
This Opportunity Won’t Always Be There
I cross the street, I look. I don’t find him. It’s 10 mins max. I walk around the area. There are some alcoves between the buildings, and I’m looking but finding zero signs of life. No one around ANYWHERE! Now I’m upset for an entirely different reason. I could have made a difference in someone’s life and I didn’t.
Don’t take it for granted, this opportunity to serve won’t always be there for you. I’m not saying there might not be another opportunity to serve a neighbor, to serve a team member, or your leader. Or to serve an elderly neighbor or a need in the community. There will always be a place for you to plug-in and serve. What you might miss is THIS opportunity. The one you face today. This may be the last time this one comes up or around.
So I was meeting with some of my favorite people in the world, the mastermind I participate in weekly with Val Brown and Rick Marion. Rick was talking about a book he is reading called The Rock Warrior’s Way, and how the author, Arno Ilgner shares that when you miss the next grab on a climbing route, there’s a tendency to be hard on yourself and feel like you blew it. You focus on the mistake rather than the opportunity to learn and improve.
Then Val was talking about how we have to focus on showing up. Between the two of them, they made an incredibly important point that is summarized in this quote from Val:
“Show up the best you can every day.” – Val Brown
It really is as simple as that. How do I show up when I don’t feel like doing something? What if I don’t do it as well as I expected to? Do the best you are capable of doing right now, in this moment. Self-esteem and improvement build from the effort, not from always producing desired results.
And that’s why I do this podcast. I’m showing up every week doing the best I’m capable of in each moment. Getting an episode done so I can look at the pretty list and tick a box is not my priority. I’m doing it because I care about the quality of what I deliver to you. I invest in preparing value for you each week. A small principle, a practical step, a useful thought or practice that you can implement to make a change in your life.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of having an opportunity to make a difference and not. Don’t let that happen to you. Show up full force for the opportunities presented to you today. There is no such thing as wasted effort when you are working to improve your life and the lives of others.
Don’t shortcut – invest in making yourself the best, most capable, equipped leader to serve those you lead. No wasted moments. Willing to give freely – your time, your talents, your money, in the service of man. Don’t let cynicism harden your heart. Think the best about people and assume that you will make an impact with your gift.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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