I call this picture “a man and his puppy.” I don’t know this individual’s name or circumstances. Only that he came by our shelter one day to eat lunch. He isn’t famous and probably not rich. But to his puppy, he is everything. In my work among society’s forgotten, I’ve learned that somebody needs you everyday.
Life is tough and people have big problems. Guess what else? We have problems too. But in the midst of our worries, one of the best things we can do is help a brother or sister who is really going through it today.
Who Needs You
After I hit “publish” on this post and grab a shower, I’ll head into work at a homeless shelter. Upon arriving, I’ll be greeted with “hey Mr. Rex” or “good morning Mr. Baker”, mixed with some “hi Rex.” Those wanting to make a good religious impression may say “hello Brother Baker.” I’ll likely see some blank stares on the faces of people scarred by mental illness.
Some of those speaking to me would love an hour of my time. But I can’t spend an hour with everyone who wants it. An hour spent is an hour of life that you can’t get back, so spend it wisely. On the flipside, we must fight the temptation to be cynical and withdraw from everyone. Because somebody needs you today. The trick is figuring out who so that you don’t waste your morning listening to a co-worker babble about what they had for dinner last night.
Be Intentional about Adding Value
I’ve learned that in order to help others, you have to be intentional about adding value. You have to do it on purpose. So how do you cut through the noise and interruptions of life to help people in a way that will make a positive impact?
I hold a Monday night group therapy/Bible study/bull session with a small group of men in our recovery program at work. This session usually runs about two hours. I’m late getting home on Monday nights. Sometimes I don’t feel like staying late but do it anyway. Sometimes I just don’t feel the vibe.
However, one of the men in our group recently got a job as a shift manager at a local business. Another is about to be hired as a front-line substance abuse counselor. This taught me that intentionally spending time with key people who want your help can bring lasting results that will bless others.
Start Where You Are
Start where you are. Don’t wait for the perfect job, the perfect setting or the perfect time. Life on this earth will never be perfect. Start today with someone who needs you and begin investing time in them.
A wise man once said “base your priorities on who will be crying at your funeral.” If my children need me, I come running. Only I can be their daddy. Only I can be my wife’s husband. Before my mother passed away, only I could be her son. And she seriously needed me, particularly in the last years of her life.
The place where people need you is often messy. You’ll sometimes feel like you’re spending your time helping others while nobody is helping you. That’s part of life. I spent yesterday writing job descriptions for my employees to comply with workplace policy changes. Writing 21 job descriptions is not my idea of sheer ecstasy, but it is something only I as their director can do.
Take Care of Yourself
The Major League Baseball playoffs started this week. Yesterday I took time off to watch the Cardinals beat the Braves in a 7-6 thriller. Don’t waste your life watching sports, but sometimes you need a breather. After writing those job descriptions, I rewarded myself with Chinese take-out and a ball game. All the problems of the world will be waiting when the game is over.
Still, let us not forget the lesson of the man and his puppy. Everybody needs someone to love them and everybody needs someone to help. Get those two things right. Somebody needs you today. Find that person and add value to their life.