I pull up to the gas pump to fill ‘er up, when just as I’m about to put my card in the machine, a young man shows up waving his card and says, “I’d like to buy your gas for you today. Would you let me do that for you?”
I turned and looked at him and smiled, “Whoa, you’re paying it forward, a random act of kindness.” To which he replied, “Not really. I just want to share some of the blessings that God has given to me.”
I smiled, even more, stepped away and said, “Why certainly…” I paused and pointed to him… He said, “My name is Mike.” I continued, “Mike, you may pay for my gas.”
Now, Mike had no idea who I was. All he knew was that he wanted to do something unexpected, what we refer to as a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) because God had blessed him. So, he was motivated to share a blessing with a total stranger, not expecting anything in return.
I thanked Mike and waved at him as we left the service station, knowing our lives may never cross paths again. But this RAOK was far more important to me than he could possibly have known.
Yes, the thought crossed my mind, to graciously refuse his offer to buy my gas because someone else might need it more than me… which would have foiled his attempt to do a “random” act of kindness. In that split second, I allowed him to proceed, so as to not break his stride, nor prevent his blessing me more than he could have imagined.
I have been promoting and encouraging others to do random acts of kindness for the last year-and-a-half (I also suggested it before then, but not as passionately), and started looking for ways to do something unexpectedly good for someone who wasn’t expecting anything regularly. I herald the people who do random acts of kindness as, “my favorite superheroes.”
If you’ve been doing this for a while, you might be surprised at how some people will refuse your offer to do something nice for them. Maybe when someone turns my offer away, I should be more persistent, explaining about why they should reconsider accepting my simple gift, but I don’t. I am more likely to graciously honor their declining of my offer, and seek out someone else who might be more receptive.
I know what it feels like to have someone reject your RAOK. No matter what the circumstance, you were moved to do a nice thing and you got shot down. I wasn’t going to do that to Mike, so I let him to pay for the fuel for my car.
Now, the whole Random Acts of Kindness-thing comes ‘round full circle. I am pretty sure that Mike had no idea that I’ve been promoting random acts of kindness as part of my personal ministry of making the world a better place. I realize there are many people, just like you and me, doing the same thing. Doing something kind for someone, for no reason, except to bless someone unexpectedly, and who knows? They might be encouraged to do something nice for someone else unexpectedly. Plus, while I had been surprise-blessing others for the last year-and-a-half, this was the first time anyone approached me. It was good to see this idea working, making me feel like what we are doing is making a difference.
Our little random act of kindness may not be life-altering but in terms of reminding people that there is good in the world and we (you and I) can make a little difference.
Mike’s reaching out to pay for my gas reinforced my enthusiasm about encouraging others to do something good for somebody else who you don’t know and likely would never see again. I know Mike didn’t want any recognition for sharing his blessing, but I just couldn’t help but tell the story about his doing so because it so blessed me to be a recipient of one of the very things I have been promoting.
Mike, I honor you for your faithfulness in sharing your blessings with others with no expectations as one of my favorite superheroes, who do the same thing: Sharing a little somethin-somethin’ with strangers, which exemplifies hope in a world where hope is so lacking these days.
Mike, you made my day and the days of many others who will read this. It is your small act of kindness bestowed upon a complete stranger at a random gas pump which will hopefully inspire others to join the wave of goodness that is spreading across the landscape of our planet.
If you are reading this, and what you do today defines you, then think about Mike’s example of making the world a better place by blessing someone with a random act of kindness today.
It is these small acts performed by a growing number of people that changes our world for the better.
God bless you, Mike, for all that you do to make the world a better place.