Tuesday, September 30, 2008

World Impact

Have you done any good in the world today? Have you helped somebody in need?

This is the challenge for today.

Think about how you are impacting humanity, either for good or for bad. Make a difference, even if it’s just a smile or holding a door for someone.

You can do it.

I believe in you!

Pass it on.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Family Service Challenge

It’s Monday.

I’d like to tell you about a family who made a difference in the world.

The Richardson family from Idaho held a family meeting and discussed the blessings they had received. They knew they had been given much, and therefore, felt a strong need to give back.

While most of us are concerned with our own little worlds, the Richardson’s did an extraordinary thing – they planned and took what they called a “Service Vacation”.

Leaving their home, they headed northwest, and found ways to serve along the way. They spent time helping a lot of people. They stopped to help stranded motorists, they cleaned beaches, and they handed out what they called coupons. These were little slips of paper that read:

“Sometimes it’s just nice to know somebody cares. Have a great day! From” and then the person giving it out signed it.

There is a touching story about this in the book, The Message.

One of the teens handed out a coupon to a deli worker in a grocery store. The clerk broke down into tears, she was so overwhelmed with emotion, knowing that a complete stranger would be so sensitive to her needs.

When the family was cleaning up garbage at a beach in Eureka, California, the locals were rather surprised.

A short quote from the book:

“Hi… What are you guys doing?”

“Oh, we’re picking up garbage here on the beach.”

“Oh.” They would pause a second and then say, “How come?”

“We just thought it would be nice to do, and it looked like it needed it.”

“Uh huh. Where are you from?”

“We’re from Idaho.”

“Idaho?!” they would respond with a startled tone. “You’re from Idaho and you’re here cleaning up our beach? Why?”

“We just wanted to help out.” (From “The Message – © 2001 American Family Institute)

Can you imagine the surprise? How would you react to strangers coming to your town and helping out? Would it anger you? Would it inspire you? I suppose the range of emotions would be all over the map.

The interesting thing about the Richardson family’s encounter is that most people welcomed them, once they knew what they were doing and why. At the beach in Eureka, people started following their example and walked right along with the family, picking up the trash.

Can you imagine what sort of an impact you and your family can have on your community? You don’t have to travel to find a great and worthwhile service project. There are, I am positive, people within a few blocks or miles of you who can benefit from an idea such as the Service Vacation.

Consider the coupon Lance and his family created. Can you do the same thing? I’ve tried it – and believe me, the results are amazing.

Sometimes, I’ll sign it “A Friend Who Cares” and leave it on someone’s keyboard after they leave for the day. The next day, it’s always a blast watching their reaction. There’s a little bit of a buzz going on as they try and figure it out. And, in the meantime, the smile on their face – the joy they feel knowing that someone cares – well, it’s just so worth it.

Could you do something like this? Could you get your family to help you?

I challenge you to take some time today, Monday, to have a sort of family night. I challenge you to talk about service to others and how such selfless service can bring real peace and happiness both to you and your family, and to the beneficiaries of your service.

Remember, your acts of service don’t have to be huge and complex. They can be small and simple and still very, very effective.

So, how about it? Do you accept the challenge?

Please feel free to comment, and as always… pass it on.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meet Don

I'd like to tell you about a boy I met at church. I'll call him Don.

At 16, Don seems to be closer to God than anyone I know, child or adult. He's mentally challenged, but that works to his advantage.

In a talk his mom gave last month, she told of overhearing Don tell God, in prayer, that he was ready to go Home whenever God was ready to send for him. And he was happily serious about it.

Today while I was sitting in the foyer at Church, Don happened to be in the hall. Two strangers walked by and Don rushed to introduce himself.

"I'm Don! Who are you?"

A little taken aback, they told him their names. Chris and Mike.

He hugged them both at the same time while fairly yelling, "Hi, Chris! Hi, Mike!" He was genuinely excited to have two new friends (they just didn't know they were best friends yet).

I watched their faces as Don ran off to greet others. Their surprised looks gave way to honest-to-goodness smiles. He had touched their hearts with simple love that was complete and unambiguous.

I wish I could be more like Don.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who Is It?

It's the weekend. What are you doing right now?

Many of us are filling our time with football, church or relaxation. Some of us are either trying to wind down from this work week, while others are getting a head start on the next.

Monday is just around the corner.

While you're going about your end-of-week activities, I'd like to tell you about someone. I'll describe them. and you guess who it is.

This person is someone who has been there for you, likely more than once. They've done you favors, and even though they say you've repaid them, you know you got the better end of the deal.

You remember this person for their kind-hearted nature, their ease at making you feel good. You remember times when they put the wants and needs of others ahead of their own.

You've watched them do things that many others would not -

You've seen a few dollars secretly slipped to someone in need. You've heard a quiet word of encouragement to someone feeling down or upset. You've noticed they are the first to open their arms to greet you and others.

You've felt special and loved and accepted in their presence.

You've watched them and wondered what gives them that "spark".

Do you know who I'm talking about?

I bet you do.

I'm pretty sure they remember you, too.

You know that they've tried to serve others without reward or attention. To them, the reward is always in the doing of the deed.

But you know what would be great? If they got a "thank you" from someone who has benefitted from their acts of kindness.

How long has it been since you've seen or talked to this kind and giving person? A day? month? Ten years?

Do you know how to find them? Are they in the book? Can you find them on Google?

I bet it would be worthwhile to make the effort.

And, I'm willing to bet they would appreciate hearing from you.

It doesn't have to be a long coversation. You can even snail mail them a 'thank you' card.

They may have completely forgotten the act of kindness they showed you.

Go. Find them. And thank them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome Back to Service Thursday

I took my own advice today. I had posted about taking a few minutes to talk to someone who was feeling down.

For me, it was a co-worker, I’ll call Alice.

Ever since I joined the team I currently work on, Alice has pretty well kept to herself. She has a great sense of humor and a bigger than anything smile, but she just seems to prefer staying in her shell most of the time.

The best part of what happened today was that it was straight out of the blue.

We were having a conversation about work in IM and, when there was a break, I just typed a few lines telling her how much I appreciated having her on the team and how I enjoy working with her.

What I said was absolutely true. I would never lie to a person for the sole purpose of making them feel good, nor would I advocate doing that.

Her first question: “Where did that come from?”

My answer: “From the heart.”

She thought I was being a smart alec – a wise cracker. But I wasn’t and I told her so. I emphasized some of the things I’ve seen her do for others around the office, and told her I liked the fact that she cares so much about other people. I told her that her actions spoke volumes about her intuitive caring nature, and pointed out how nice she's always been to me.

Then she surprised me. She said, “What comes around goes around. It’s easy to be nice to you because you’re nice.”

I have to say, this is a conversation I’ll remember for a long, long time. I couldn't get the smile off my face for the rest of the day.

Serving others isn’t always easy – and it's rarely convenient as one good woman posted in the comments section of my blog. She’s right. Many times we have to step out of our comfort zones in order to help someone else. This is especially true if we don’t know or like or get along with the person we’re serving.

Think about it. How easy is it to stop and chat with a homeless person? How do you feel about someone who appears outwardly hostile towards mankind? What’s your reaction to someone who sits next to you in church or a professional setting and they smell of alcohol, cigarettes or it smells like they need a shower?

How easy is it to step outside our safety circle and – literally or figuratively – embrace that person?

What if at worship services they don’t know the hymns or when to say “Amen”? What if they sing off key?

What if they’re a sinner?

These are things each of us struggle with (or have struggled with) from time to time). None of us is perfect, but the beauty of service to others is that neither the served nor the one being served needs to be perfect in order for simple service to be effective and appreciated.

You don’t have to be perfect to serve someone else.

You don’t have to be perfect to allow yourself to be served.

So, my challenge today, Thursday, September 25th is this –

Serve a stranger. Do it, even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable.

God has made the rain fall on both you and the one you need to serve today. But He’s made the sun come out and shine on you both as well. He is no respecter of persons. Yeah, I know – He’s God of the Universe, and He has the ability to look past imperfections.

I’ll let you in on a secret. If you can try, with a prayer in your heart, you can, too.

Just try. That’s all anyone can expect. Don’t be perfect.

Just try.

And, as always, I’m asking you to pass it on.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do you have 10 minutes to spare?

What can you do to make someone’s day worthwhile? A lot, actually.

Have you ever noticed those days when you just aren’t feeling “in the groove”? You know those times - the times where you just feel the blahs coming on. You don’t want to be bothered to even show up for work, but you do it anyway because you need the money.

We all have those days.

What would make you feel better?

A smile. A hug. A friendly and encouraging word from someone, even if they don’t know you all that well.

Take a moment right now, and think about those in your current environment. If you’re at work, stand up and take a quick look around you. What do you see? Are you looking at people who are happy with their lives? Is there one who seems to be having a bad day? Maybe they’re lonely or just not in a great mood.

Maybe their car hasn’t been in the best of shape lately, and they’re tired of mechanics and having to buy oil and antifreeze. Maybe they had a spat with their kids or spouse this morning. Who knows?

If you were having a bad day, how would you feel if someone made the effort to let you know that they care? How invaluable to you for someone else to have someone just… listen? You know they don’t have to fix whatever the problem is. Just having someone take five or ten minutes out of their busy day to ask how you’re doing – how you’re really doing, and then listen to you with their heart.

We all want someone to listen to us once in awhile. We want to know that we’re not alone in what we’re going through. We want to feel a part of the great network of humanity, with all it’s imperfections and greatness.

We don’t have to feel that we’re right all the time. But to know that our feelings are validated is a special gift.

Do you see someone who needs that today? Can you find a few minutes in your busy day to go and listen to them? Can you go ask how they’re feeling and then just listen without judgment or interruption? Can you let them speak for several minutes and really focus on how they’re feeling?

Can you smile, nod and let them know they are a valuable person? Can you let them know you appreciate what they add to your life, your career or your organization?

Can you?

I think you can.

I appreciate all of you who come read my words and then act on the challenges I give you. You make me feel worthwhile and needed. You can’t possibly know how good you make me feel. Thank you for that.

Now, please spread the love. Go find someone and make a difference in their day, too. And please, pass it on.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preparing for Service Thursday

Service Thursday is coming again - it's only 2 days away.

Can you schedule five minutes out of your day to comfort a child? Can you take time out on lunch to take a meal to a new mommy?

I bet you can.

It's easy.

Come back on Thursday for more ideas. And please, feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section. I'd love to hear them.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Message - Service: The Mode of Heaven

I was asked by a few people about the title of my blog - "Service - The Action Form of Love". Since those who asked are Twitter friends (Tweeple?), and this subject requires more than 140 characters, I decided not to tackle it there.

The idea that service is the verb or action form of love, comes from a book I love to read. It's a true story titled"The Message" by Lance Richardson.

In the book, Lance, a 40ish man from Idaho, has been plagued with illness for many years, has a minor accident in the driveway of his home on Christmas morning, 1998. To most of us, such a fall would be inconsequential, but due to Lance's poor health, the consequences are far reaching.

His hip broken, Lance spends time in the hospital, where he contracts pneumonia. His antibodies fail him. As his body succumbs to one disease after another, he finally slips the bonds of his mortal body, and is surprised to find himself on the other side of the veil.

While in a place called the Spirit World, he is met by Randy, his cousin, and several other relatives and friends. He is asked to bring a message back to the rest of us, which he struggles to do after his body recovers from the medically induced coma his doctors put him in.

What's the message?

Simply this:

America is falling apart. It was dedicated and consecrated to be a promised land, where her people were to serve God and serve each other.

When we turn away from God and His principles, we suffer the consequences. Wars and rumors of wars. Pestilence. Disease. Natural disasters.

And, to me, one of the most profound lessons Lance brings back to teach us is that "Service is the mode of Heaven", and "Service is the action form of love." Makes sense, doesn't it? The more we serve others, the less selfish we are. The less selfish we are, the more we get outside ourselves and serve others.

Can you imagine living in a society where everyone thought about their brother's and sister's needs ahead of their own? Our needs would still be met because we'd be served by others, just as we serve others. It's a heavenly cycle, rather than a vicious cycle. Sucn a society would be utopia - a true Zion. Our hearts would be knit together in love. Simply put, our lives and our world would drastically change for the better.

And we would again put ourselves in the good graces of our God, for as God, Himself has said:

"Return unto me, and I will return unto you..." (Malachi 3:7)

Now, please understand, I'm not perfect at serving others and my God. I am no special messenger who envisions himself at a pulpit telling you to shape up or ship out. I am a mere mortal man who believes the message Lance brought back. I don't believe it simply because Lance visited the Spirit World and returned. I believe it because it is an additional witness to what I already believe because of the feelings of my heart, and from the scriptures I read and love.

Understanding that, then, I invite you to try an experiment that I believe will change your life and the lives of those around you.


That's all there is to it.

It doesn't have to be anything huge or time consuming or expensive. Just find someone to serve and do it. Get outside of your own needs even for a few minutes today. Feed an expired parking meter. Drop off some clothes to a woman's shelter. Read to a child or visit a nursing home.

You can do it.

As I've been taught and as I believe, when you are in the service of your fellow being, you are only in the service of your God.

Please pass this on.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Small and Simple Acts of Service

Thanks to everyone for your help with the first Service Thursday!

In preperation for next week, I'd like to get your ideas and suggestions.

What can you think of that equals small and simple service? Share your thoughts by commenting here, or by visiting me on Twitter http://twitter.com/jhofheins

I will post some between now and Thursday, September 25th.

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. " (Alma 37:6 - Emphasis mine)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Service Thursday!

Welcome to Service Thursday

Do you want to feel good today? I don't mean, "I got my espresso and cinabun so it's gonna be a productive day" good. I'm talking about the kind of feeling that makes you feel as though you've made a difference. The kind of inner-peace that comes from knowing you have a real honest-to-goodness purpose in life.

I'm talking about the feeling that comes from serving someone else.

Today, September 18, 2008, marks the first Service Thursday.

It's a pretty simple concept, really - a "bite sized" idea if you will.

All I'm asking you to do is find one person, family or organization and do something nice for them today.

You can smile at someone who you can tell has just had it with life. You can be their shoulder to cry on; their sounding board.

You don't have to solve their problems (though you know you would if you could). Sometimes it just helps to have someone hear you out.

Be that person.

Or, you can stop and ask a "street person" if they would like lunch. You don't have to spend a lot of money, maybe five, six bucks. Get them a dollar burger and a soda. How about a sandwich? Maybe you can intersperse some encouraging words when you take their order. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that in their history, you share something in common.

Be the one who makes their life just a little easier.

Or, after you load your own groceries in the car, you can hang around for a few minutes just to see if someone else has a load they're having a hard time with. Ask them if they would like help. They may say no. They may be suspicious of your motives. That's okay. Smile if your offer is declined. Move on and find someone else.

Be the person who at least offered to help.

You get the idea.

One of my very favorite quotes comes from an ancient wise leader named King Benjamin.

He said: "When you are in the service of your fellow being, you are only in the service of your God."

I take that to heart.

Service projects don't have to be weildly and time consuming. Sometimes, people just need to know they're not alone in the world. They need to know someone cares and is interested in their humanity.

Be that person.

And, remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!