Gospel, Practices

When ‘God Bless You’ Is the Only Reward

If you are like me, I want credit for doing the right thing. Maybe it goes back to the Boy Scout challenge “to do a good turn daily.” There is a part of me that wants someone to notice and say something out loud when they catch me “doing something good.” Yet I also know that my character is most often best revealed when no one is watching. Frederick Douglass in a letter to Harriet Tubman once said:

“Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way … most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared, and foot-sore bondsmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt ‘God Bless You’ has been your only reward.”

When was the last time ‘God Bless You’ was your only reward? What is the treasure you received in that simple blessing?

Culture, Practices

Introduce Yourself to Someone in the Neighborhood

Social Fitness Challenge #15Introduce yourself to someone in your neighborhood.

Do you know your next door neighbors? If not, that’s a great place to start this week’s challenge. Getting to know the people who live around you is the perfect way to start to build a strong community. By getting to know your neighbors, you are creating a support network of people who work together to protect and serve the needs of everyone in the group. And you never know – you might make a new friend!

Culture, Practices

Listen Carefully Rather Than Solve Another’s Problems

Social Fitness Challenge #14Listen carefully to someone without trying to solve his/her problem.

When someone comes to you with a problem or complaint, offer them a listening ear. To practice active listen you should 1) look into the speaker’s eyes, 2) tell her what you hear in your own words–as much as you can, put yourself in her shoes, 3) clarify by asking questions to ensure you understand the person fully, the whole picture, the points being made, and the meaning to the person, and 4) ask the speaker if she wants advice. If she accepts your offer for advice, then begin to reflect on the advice you would like to give her.

When you are thinking about what you are going to say to a person before he is finished speaking, you are going to miss significant information about his story. More importantly, people don’t always want advice. Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen.

Culture, Practices

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings As You Go

Social Fitness Challenge #13On the way to and from work/school, use all five senses to take in information about your surroundings. Share what you notice with a friend.

Have you ever left a room and turned off the light, only to realize someone was still in there? Or maybe you took the wrong exit out of habit of driving to a certain location? Every day, you probably engage in acts that seem to occur automatically or unconsciously. Running on autopilot is normal and, in many cases, helpful. However, when you overly rely on automatic behaviors, you begin to miss important details in your environment. This week’s challenge is to encourage you to turn off your autopilot and observe your surroundings in a thoughtful way. You may notice the smell of a restaurant you didn’t know was there, the view from the bridge you drive over, or the grumbles of someone in need. Reinforce what you learned by sharing your insights with a friend. By being mindful of your environment, you are practicing an important trait of an everyday hero.