Locked out of his car with his cell phone also stuck inside, Clarence kicked his tire out of frustration in a shopping center parking lot. A teen riding past him on his bike stopped to ask what was wrong.
Clarence explained his situation and the teen offered to let him use his phone to call home. The problem was, even if Clarence reached his wife, the family only had one car so he still wouldn’t be able to get the key.
The teen took matters into his own hands, riding his bike on a seven-mile round trip to get the key. When the teen returned with the key, Clarence offered to pay him for his trouble, but the teen just rode off, saying he needed the exercise.
This modern-day random act of kindness surely made a difference in a frustrated man’s day. So did a random act of kindness shared by Jesus 2,000 years ago in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The story explains how a compassionate man stopped to help someone who’d been severely beaten and left for dead after two others walked right past him. He paid for a place for him to recover and for his medical needs.
When we help others — whether strangers, friends, neighbors or family members and whether random or planned — we’re doing God’s work on Earth.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” —Luke 10:27
5 Great Ways to Spread Kindness
Encourage, Encourage, Encourage
Hearing that someone else cares and believes in you goes a long way no matter what you’re facing, big or small. That’s why hospitals allow visitors and include families in patients’ care plans, sports teams work to fill bleachers and have cheerleaders, and schools ask for parent notes to share with students before important tests. They understand there’s power in the show of support and encouragement.
Make a commitment to be a positive force in people’s lives. Encouraging someone and letting them know you care can be as simple as:
- Mailing a handwritten card
- Making a heartfelt phone call
- Sending an “I’m thinking of you” text, meme or card
- Sending flowers
Praying for your loved ones — and letting them know you are — is also a great way to show them they’re supported. Inviting others to pray as well can keep someone who could use some extra prayers encouraged and show them they’re surrounded in love and support.
Help Financially When It’s Appropriate
Money conversations can be awkward, but if you pick up on a need to financially help a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member, take action. Remember, you don’t have to shoulder it alone. Band together with others and offer to help out financially by:
- Buying groceries
- Filling up a vehicle with gas
- Offering to pay for house cleaning, snow removal or lawn care
- Paying a particular bill
- Providing restaurant or grocery gift cards
Or, in particularly difficult situations, you might start a fundraising page.
So often we need to get something off our chests. When you’re having a bad day, are in the throes of a family conflict or have work issues that are weighing heavily on you, having someone to listen makes all the difference. Be that shoulder to cry on or listening ear for someone you care about.
You don’t have to offer advice. In fact, your friend may actually not want it. By talking through things with a patient, caring friend, your loved one may come to their own insights and conclusions.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” —Galatians 6
“ If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” — Romans 12:8
Make Time for Others
Showing you care by making time for someone lets them know they’re a priority to you. This could be a date night with your spouse, special time with a child or girl’s night out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Be especially mindful of loved ones who may be craving visitors, such as sick friends who are homebound or grandparents in assisted living, and find safe ways to show them you care. Set up a time to video chat or to see them in a protected, socially-distant way.
Offer to Help in Practical Ways
Offering to lend a hand to someone you care about comes in many forms. The key is offering something specific: If you simply say, “call if you need anything,” chances are, they won’t. Here are some great ideas:
If your friend is sick: Offer to run errands and leave deliveries on their doorstep, do yard work or have a meal delivered.
If your loved one has a long-term illness or is recovering from surgery: Set up a meal schedule with others.
If you live far away: You can order a meal from a local restaurant to be delivered or prepackaged meals from many different services. You can also send a care package to brighten someone’s day.
Helping Others, Helps Everyone Involved
Studies show that helping other people, actually helps the person doing the good deed, and sometimes even bystanders. In fact, Psychology Today reported on a four-week study where researchers gave people a choice to perform acts of kindness for themselves or for others. Those who helped others instead of themselves showed a greater increase in their overall well-being than those who only helped themselves.
Studies have found acting kind toward others also:
- Decreases the stress hormone cortisol
- Gives us more energy
- Increases love hormone oxytocin, lowering blood pressure and improving heart health
- Reduces depression
- Reduces pain when endorphins are released
Whether planned or unexpected, kindness can have a big impact on someone’s spirit. You don’t have to make large sweeping gestures, and showing kindness doesn’t cost you a ton of time or money. Even the smallest acts such as opening doors, picking up something that someone dropped, giving a compliment or buying the next person in line a cup of coffee can speak love into someone’s spirit.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12