On a sweaty July day in a town outside of Santo Domingo, I walked through the dusty streets with a small mission team from my church. On our way to delivering a box of supplies to a family with great need, we passed another family sitting on their front porch. Their young son was quietly sitting on the curb below. As we approached the little boy, I said “hola” with a smile and waved to him. We didn’t stop, but rather continued along our journey.
That one word felt so small, a simple passing greeting while en route to help another family. I may have not even given it a second thought, but I was reminded of it on our return trip. After delivering the box of supplies, we headed back towards the community center where we’d meet the rest of our larger group. As we retraced our steps through the streets I felt a sudden thud against my leg. I looked down to see the little boy from the curb embracing my leg with all of his might. Then nearly as quickly as he showed up next to me, he zoomed back over to his curbside perch.
I was amazed that the young boy who seemed so shy made a point to search me out when we passed by nearly an hour later. My team members asked me if I had met him before. I hadn’t. He was just a young boy sitting on a curb who I had noticed and taken the little effort to say hello.
I’ve been profoundly impacted by how much a smile and that word meant. Nearly an hour later, he still treasured that small act of kindness. Often we get caught up in the big ways that we can make a difference and we miss those simple things on our daily path. We don’t need to be on a mission trip walking down a dusty road, we can make a difference right where we are.
5 Simple Ways to Make a Difference:
- See, notice, or acknowledge the people you pass. – Cindy Bultema author of Red Hot Faith calls this the people on your “trade route.” Who’s on your trade route that you need to notice or acknowledge? Maybe it’s the person down the hall, a janitor or the receptionist that you pass every day.
- Smile. – Scientists have done several research projects that yield scientific proof that smiling can change the environment around us while reducing our stress and increasing our happiness. Why not spread a little happiness and choose to smile more.
- Offer an encouraging word. – “The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.” Ovid. Why not encourage those around you so that they may have the energy and enthusiasm to run their race?
- Be grateful. – Say ‘Thank you’ more. Not only will it impact the people around you who’ll benefit from feeling appreciated but a grateful heart has been tied to improved energy, determination, and focus. It’s a win-win because you both benefit!
- Pray for the people you encounter. – Ask God to use you to positively impact the people you encounter. Then follow where He leads.
It’s often not the big extravagant things we do that make a difference but rather the small everyday things that can have a real impact. When we “see” people, we acknowledge them. You never know how your small acts of kindness can impact another.
What small ways have you blessed someone else that have had a big impact?
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