Looking for a personal ministry that’s simple and effective? How about one that involves smiling? Other people’s smiles!
First, a quick review about the nature and effect of smiles. Click on this link–http://fullofyears.org/still-smiling/–to recall what I wrote a few years back, and then come back here to continue reading.
Yes, it’s always a pleasant experience to smile—and be smiled at—but there may be more to this simple act than meets the eye. A beaming face can change someone’s day for a moment, and it can linger in the memory of those who receive and offer smiles. Which can make a smiling ministry something profoundly positive for the world.
Here’s a scenario that describes how you can join me in this personal ministry:
In any interactions with service workers—wait-staff, check-out clerks, letter-carriers, repairmen, receptionists, custodians/maids—I look for people whose smile is genuine, unforced and inviting. Toward the end of our interaction, I thank them for their smile, with remarks similar to the following:
Thanks for your smile. You’ve brightened my day, and probably do the same for everyone who comes your way. You may not realize this, but your smile may be the only (first) one that some people—including folks who are older or live alone—will get. Your smile could help start their day well, and they may enjoy the experience so much that they’ll pass on your smile to others along the way. They’ll probably feel good for a long time after seeing you. Because you might meet a lot of people today, your smile could change a lot of lives. You might change the world, one smile at a time. So keep smiling!
Sometimes I get a quizzical look from the person with whom I’m talking. But because I’m also smiling when I thank them, most of them understand what I’m saying—especially the part about “Your smile may be the only (first) one someone gets today!” If the situation allows, some of the smiling folks will talk with me briefly about this idea. Many of them already know the power of their smile—including the positive effect it has on customers, clients, patients or guests—and thank me for the reminder. Others describe the difficulties of smiling when they have so many reasons not to smile. Our conversation seems to strengthen their resolve to keep smiling—in spite of circumstances.
In the past year or so, I have stepped up the frequency of these exchanges. I want to counteract unhelpful emotions like anxiety, anger and fear with the feelings that a smile engenders. And by my grateful comments I want to strengthen and encourage service personnel who already understand the power of their presence, of their smiles!
As I said at the start of this entry, your gratitude—about others’ smiles, but also for the quality of their assistance, kindness, understanding or helpfulness—could be a ministry. By building up the resolve of service providers to remain positive and caring, you can bring evidence of God’s good news—love, hope, admiration, understanding, solidarity—to others.
And you will be blessed!
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