In a recent post I talked about being grateful for our work. In addition to the reasons we can be grateful for our work that I already mentioned, there is another important reason to be grateful - the blessing of having our own work allows us to be a blessing to others. Were you able to donate to a charity that is important to you this year? Without your job that might be difficult to do. If your company offers a gift matching benefit, you have an even greater reason to be grateful! My husband's company matches employee charitable donations up to $5,000 per year - a remarkable benefit by any standard!
But it's not just the money that allows you to bless others - it's the position you hold and the people that it causes you to interact with that gives you the chance to be a blessing to others. Recently I experienced receiving blessing from an employee of a grocery store in a rather amusing manner...
The Wednesday before Christmas I took the kids to Church for the final rehearsal before the Christmas play performance. After the rehearsal we had to go to tae kwon do class so I wore some baggy sweats over my uniform and threw on an old jacket. We were running late and raced out without dinner. "No problem," I thought, "We'll just get pizza at church." (Our church serves a pizza dinner for $2/each every Wednesday night to help busy families keep up with activities and still get dinner). After got in the car I noticed that my son had worn a sweatshirt instead of a coat and my daughter had worn slip-on shoes instead of boots. It was too late to turn back, and I figured that since we were just going to be running in and out of church, and then in and out of the gym, we would keep going despite the wet, sticky snow that was falling.
We got to church and the kids had their practice. The church was unusually busy for Wednesday night and by the time the kids finished practice the pizza was gone. What to do now? The kids had tae kwon do in 30 minutes and there was no way to keep going without food. Not a problem - Byerly's is just up the road and they have a great hot deli. On the way in the parking lot I told the kids, "We're in a hurry so we can't have a full meal - just enough to hold us over until after TKD." We raced into the store through the blowing snow. The temperature was dropping fast! By the time we got to the deli section, my son had his arms crossed over his chest and was shivering. My daughter stamped her feet and said, "I wish I had boots on!"
The kids mulled over their choices. My daughter wanted macaroni & cheese and my son wanted chicken. The nice lady behind the counter got out two dinner trays and started dishing up the macaroni. "Oh no," I said, "We're going to split one dinner with two sides." She looked at me curiously. "We're kind of in a hurry," I explained. "We were going to eat at church tonight but they ran out of food."
"Oh," she said slowly. "That's too bad." Then she dished up the macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and 1 piece of chicken into a dinner tray. Then she took out the piece of chicken and rummaged around the bin and selected a different one. Then she added another scoop of mashed potatoes and macaroni. By the time she handed me the tray the plastic lid wouldn't snap down and mashed potatoes were oozing out the side. "Merry Christmas!" she said warmly with a big beaming smile.
We continued our frantic pace through the check-out line and then grabbed a small table to eat quickly so we wouldn't make a mess in the car. As he started in on the chicken my son nonchalantly commented, "Did you see how that Deli Lady picked through the chicken to give us the biggest one? She must know I like chicken!" I was mulling over the fact that the Deli Lady had carefully picked through the roasting pan for the largest piece of chicken when it slowly began to dawn on me....our missing outerwear during a snowstorm...my insistence that we split a meal...we looked and sounded as if we were a family in financial peril!
Now I understood the deli lady's extra effort to find the largest piece of chicken and the heaping helpings of mashed potatoes and macaroni. I started to laugh and I couldn't stop. I finally gasped, "She thinks we're homeless." My kids stared at me blankly at first, and then my daughter caught on. "I was saying I wanted some boots to wear!" she howled. "And I was shivering without a coat on," my son said. I added, "And I told her the church was out of food tonight!!" After that we couldn't stop. We laughed and laughed, and every time we thought of those mashed potatoes oozing out of the side of the takeout tray we started up giggling again.
The Deli Lady at Byerly's had no way of knowing that we are a typical suburban family with a full refrigerator, nice cars and warm beds. That night, to her, we looked - and sounded - like a homeless single mom with two kids stressed about finding our next meal. Through my laughter about the mix-up, I was also quite moved and touched by her generosity, the warmth of her "Merry Christmas" and especially by the way she treated me with dignity and respect despite my appearances.
The Deli Lady used her position to make sure that under the circumstances we got the best meal possible. She used the blessing of her particular job to be a blessing to others. I truly hope that she had a very Merry Christmas this year and that she is richly rewarded for her generosity and kindness.
When you stop to think about it - really think about it - it is an inspiring idea to think that we can take what we do to earn a living and turn it into a blessing for the others that we come into contact with as a result of our work. Not all of us are in jobs where we can use our position to give food to others who need it. But I am convinced that we all have something unique to our work that will allow us to be a blessing to others if we think about it long enough.
What are some ways that you have seen people use their role to bless others? What are ways in which you have been able to use your particular job to bless others? Please leave a comment and share your story!