The Big Difference A Small Word Of Kindness Can Make

Is He not the One… who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of His hands?    Job 34:18-19

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn High School and summers during college, I worked a plethora of jobs: cashier at a grocery store, bus girl at a restaurant, chamber maid at a hotel, ad type setter for a local newspaper, piece driller at a welding shop, you name it. All of these jobs taught me something: either a new skill, or what it’s like to walk in the shoes of the people who do these jobs full time. What stayed with me most were the feelings of being invisible and taken advantage of.

Very few people even acknowledged my existence when I was bussing tables. They had no idea that I was President of my High School class, on the honor roll, and had hopes and dreams of saving the world. And the way some people left their hotel rooms when I was a chambermaid would absolutely nauseate you. It was as if I were beneath them, just a lowly dog that was fortunate to get to clean up after them. Although I didn’t enjoy these experiences, they taught me what to do, and what not to do.

We’ve all heard the stories about the immigrants who were doctors and lawyers in their own countries, yet are now flipping burgers and scrubbing toilets in ours. Most times we overlook them. When we do see them, we tend to not recognize their value. Shame on us! Regardless of who they are, what they did, and what they now do, they are still the work of God’s hands. He crafted them individually and specifically to bring gifts into our world.

We all complain about the problems and misfortunes of life. We tend to blame God for each and every one of them. I believe God doesn’t create the problems in our world, we do: in how we treat our environment, ourselves, and our neighbors.

Despite us being the source of the problems, I believe God still wants to save us from ourselves. I believe He is constantly sending us solutions. Unfortunately, most times we’re too obtuse and self-centered to recognize them.

I believe the majority of His answers come in the form of people, and the skills and talents He has gifted them with. But if we categorize people in our heads, and choose to look down upon those who are different from us, we deny them the opportunity to share their gifts, gifts that could solve some of the world’s problems. Likewise, we also deny ourselves the opportunity to be the gift and solution to their problems.

I’m not saying we need to house an immigrant in our homes, or pay for a stranger’s college tuition. I am saying we need to acknowledge and appreciate everyone we cross paths with. A simple “hello” and “thank you” goes a long way. It shows we recognize them, that we’re grateful. At the core, that’s all people need to keep moving forward: to know that they matter, that they have value. That’s a major ingredient for self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that propels people towards their true potential and purpose.

Over April vacation, every time we turned the corner at our hotel in Florida, there was another employee hard at work. It shocked me that my kids just walked right by, without even acknowledging them. It made me realize that they haven’t had the same experiences I’ve had. I realized that I had a lot of teaching to do to fill that gap.

So began the lessons of recognizing all the people who worked so hard so that we could be comfortable and have fun on our vacation. Kids are so malleable and impressionable; they’re sponges when information is presented in a way they can understand. It didn’t take much on my part before they were crossing the parking lot to thank the gardener who was weeding, or circling the pool to thank the person straightening lounge chairs and picking up towels.

As I watched from a distance, I could see the employees transforming: smiles breaking across their faces, their postures straightening a bit. I could also see my kids walking a little taller, knowing they had done a good thing, one that had cost them absolutely nothing, yet added so much value. It was wonderful to see them learn, first hand, the big difference a small word of kindness can make.

Questions For Reflection:

     * Do I take the time to acknowledge and thank the cashier at the grocery store? The chamber maid at the hotel? The bus boy/girl at the restaurant?

     * Have I taught my kids to do the same?


     * Do I realize the big difference these small acts of kindness can make?


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2 thoughts on “The Big Difference A Small Word Of Kindness Can Make

  1. Good advice, Claire. I particularly notice that at the grocery store. Most shoppers completely ignore the people stocking shelves or else get aggravated if they block an aisle.
    A simple ‘hello’ does bring a smile or a friendly comment. Good for you for reminding your children of that!!


    • Thanks Mom. That reminds me, I was one of those shelf stockers myself (in addition to all the other jobs I had) and I was overlooked much of the time. The ones I particularly try hard to thank are the ones who clean bathrooms in public places. Those people need to be blessed and thanked over and over again.


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