Sometimes, stepping away from the desk gives a better perspective.  I usually eat lunch at my office, but this time I wanted to get out.  Thanks to my trip to BK, I had a really interesting day helping people we all normally drive past and mumble about.  It was interesting going to stores with my new friends after having visited with them for an hour or so and seeing other peoples reaction to them.  We had some pretty deep conversation about where they had been, where they were headed, and what got them there in life.

I met him as I left Burger King.  He was panhandling on a street corner and I had a few dollars in my pocket.  Honestly, I had this slight feeling that I shouldn’t give him money.  “It will only encourage him to keep up this lifestyle,” I thought to myself.  This was odd, because I usually have no hesitation in giving to a panhandler. Ultimately, the love of God moved me to call him over, give him the money, and ask him to meet me for a hamburger at the Burger King.  He thanked me and met me at BK.

I bought the man a burger at BK and asked the lady at the counter if I could buy a gift card.  “We don’t sell gift cards,” she replied.  I felt bad I didn’t have more to give him, God moved on my heart and told me to give him my time instead.  So, I sat down with him and we talked.

The gentleman was on his way to be a Veterinarian and found a “party” that never ends.  That is, until you run out of cocaine or get caught with enough to put you in prison.  He got out of prison Oct 2012 and two months later his younger brother died of pneumonia.  He told me he was cutting lawns for people before he went in to prison, but when he got out all his tools were gone, most likely stolen by people he knows.  He went on to say he still had four clients who had their own tools and he still did work with them.  “I get about $120 a month from that,” he proudly declared.  This guy wasn’t a street hustler, not really.  I’ve known hustlers, they are proud to hustle.  This man was proud to work.

He had a lady friend and I told him to go get her and have her join us.  The lady claimed a number of jobs.  It was obvious she was the street veteran of the two.  She was sharp as a tack.  At some point she figured working in Mexico sounded fun so she went to Mexico and lived there for a while.  She came back to try to get “disability” but she didn’t qualify. If I am being honest with myself, I don’t think she does either.  She was a hustler, but with me she wasn’t running a game.  I was nice enough to spend time with them, she was kind enough to be honest. She saw I was legitimately trying to help her friend.  She knew I was an ally.

I spent three hours with them.  We came up with ideas to make legit money.  We talked about the future.  We talked about the past.  I listened to them and they took genuine interest in me.  They had as much empathy for me as I did for them.  The time I spent with them had greater value to them than the really small amount of money I gave.  The time had equal value to me.

I wasn’t going to share this story with anyone.  It was going to be my secret, but this morning I woke up and felt others should know they can help.  I might not have stopped them from using drugs or alcohol.  I probably didn’t even accomplish my goal of helping them find legit money.  I do know that for the three hours I spent with them, I watched the confidence rise as someone treated them with respect and dignity.  From time to time, this is what we are called to do.  Sometimes we must step outside ourselves and help others with no agenda.  The reward for this kind of action cannot be taken away by anyone.  This reward is eternal.

The office is where I am comfortable.  I don’t like doing things outside of it, because that means less work getting done.  However, I found that the rewards are greater when you step outside of your comfort zone and help others.  Do something to help someone in your community.  I don’t just mean donate your money.  If you donate your time and your heart, you will be rewarded.  Act Today!