The importance of paying it forward (By ellis j. still)
While my wife and I were on vacation for our birthdays, I read an article in the local newspaper about a mother who was attempting to teach her middle school aged daughter the importance of paying it forward. In summation, the daughter took on the task of collecting bible donations to send to military troops overseas. But while the mother and daughter were in line to ship the bibles, a stranger noticed the boxes of bibles asked what they were doing. The daughter explained that it was for a bible drive to troops overseas… that they were doing a random act of kindness by shipping bibles abroad. In turn, the stranger paid for the shipping in its entirety.
Paying it forward takes one random act of kindness at a time, which multiples into other acts of kindness towards others. Basically, when someone goes out of the way to do something kind to you without expecting anything in return, you do the same to someone else. There are many examples of paying it forward in the bible… of being in service to others in the bible. The story about the Good Samaritan comes to mind, where someone on the side of the road was injured and in need, but people walked around him without helping. But the Good Samaritan took pity on him and went above and beyond to give him the help that he needed (Luke 10:25-37 NIV). Good deeds can be big or small… can involve money or just a kind gesture. Your only limitation in the number of ways that you can pay it forward is the creativity of your mind. You don’t have to wait for someone to be kind to you before you make it a point to be un-expectedly kind to others.
It is important to do good deeds because it is not only a demonstration of love towards others, but with practice, it creates a habit of being nice to others without expecting anything in return. Likewise, if you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or have direct reports, a random act of kindness program would be a pleasant addition to the company culture of your workplace. It is applicable to every part of our lives. At work. At school. At the Laundromat. Everywhere. At work you may notice that one of your coworkers that you do not normally interact with may be having a bad day. Go out of you way to offer some kind words. It may not fix their problem, but your demonstration of kindness may help then get through their situation. At school, you may be part of the “in” crowd, or even an upper class person. Maybe take a freshman under your wing and show them the ropes. One thing you will notice about the power of paying it forward is that once you are kind to someone, and you are confident in your kindness, others will seek to do the same thing. Or if they don’t, they will have a different but favorable opinion about you.
Here are some ideas for paying it forward:
- Every day say “hi” or “good morning” or something of the sort to at least three people you have never seen before (you have to smile… otherwise, it does not count).
- If you are on an airplane seated in first class, trade your seat with someone in coach.
- When driving through the tool booth, also pay the toll for the car behind you
- When eating out, pay for someone else’s meal
- Buy someone a book or inspirational gift
- Leave the newspaper or magazine in good condition someplace so that someone else can read it.
- Shovel your neighbor’s snow. If you already have a relationship with your neighbor, shovel the snow of a neighbor that you don’t know.
- Give someone waiting at the bus stop a ride
- Carry someone’s bags to their car at the supermarket or mall
One Saturday afternoon as we were waiting to be seated, my wife and I saw two young ladies (we later found out that they were sisters) at our local Red Lobster. They were a happy bunch, but we could sense that there were troubles on the sister’s mind…. that the smiles were to ensure that whatever they were going through, the kids would be protected from the worry. When we ordered our food we informed our waitress of wanting to pay the family’s meal. The waitresses emotions welled up in her, as if the kindness was directed toward her, overjoyed that anyone would extend such kindness to another human being. The waitress told the family, and the sisters found their way to our table, crying and thanking us for the kind gesture. Whenever anyone cries around my wife, she starts crying. So of you are reading this post and you are a guy, imagine sitting at the table in a restaurant with your wife, the waitress, and two sisters crying uncontrollably. :- ) I joke about this, but these were authentic tears of joy flowing from their hearts… the core of their very being.
Question: What random acts of kindness are you planning today?
Ellis Still is the President, CEO, and founder of The Burning Bush Christian Bookstore (TBB). Ellis is a frequent blogger, and also writes reviews of TBB’s products as it relates to professional development, creative writing, and other inspiring work of art. He is married to Tina Still, MBA, who is also TBB’s Vice President of sales and CMO. They currently reside in Trenton, NJ, along with their family dog, Peanut, and are both active in youth ministry at their church home, Abundant Life Family Worship church.