An embarrassing but true tale: The red kettles used to annoy me. For years I felt guilty if I didn’t have anything to put in them – and who likes to feel guilty, right? (So sometimes I would just go in a different door….classy.) I also felt annoyed because it felt like they were everywhere. Then, when I did give my $1, I wished I had a hand stamp that I could wave at the next kettle ringer indicating I already gave. Oh, how I was filled with the giving spirit of Christmas!
Then one Sunday morning in December of 2008, I heard Stan Buck, (my pastor who passed away on November 18th) give us a challenge about the red kettles. He challenged us to give generously; to be prepared to give each and every time we passed a red kettle.
He suggested then that if we put a dollar in the kettle each time we passed one it is likely to not total more than $50. Most of us can afford to be that generous. If you can’t, consider dropping $0.50, or even $0.25 – each and every time. It feels good. Which is usually how this giving thing goes – in blessing others we usually feel blessed ourselves.
Perhaps I wasn’t really annoyed at the red kettles, it’s more likely that I was annoyed at myself for not being prepared to give. Or maybe I was just stingy. I’m not sure, but what I do know is that since that message, each Christmas season I have gone to the bank for my $1 bills and I put one in the kettle each and every time I see one.
And this year, since Stan isn’t here to give his dollar bills, I put one in for him too.
(I’ve read several Facebook postings in the last few weeks about people from our church thinking of Stan when they see a red kettle – and giving. This good and faithful man inspired so many to do the good and faithful things in life. His legacy will be far reaching.)
Be Not Afraid of the Red Kettles; The $1 Difference; Stan Buck
Zach came home a few weeks ago and said Chris, one of the younger guys on the football team, (that he had been driving to and from practice all summer because his mom works) was selling candy bars to help raise money for a mission trip he was taking. Zach wondered out loud how many he could buy. When I asked why, he said something about wanting to help this kid (it was a mission trip after all) and he wanted to blow him away through generosity.
So Zach asked all of us how much we would each contribute; everyone in our family put money in the pot. It was neat to watch that happen. Then he texted his friend.
“How many candy bars do you have left?”
“I’ll take all of them.”
“Are you kidding me?!”
“Nope, I’ll take all of them!”
Zach said Chris was really blown away when he picked up the candy bars the next day.
I just love this.
Blessed to be a blessing is something our pastor, Stan Buck, has spoken about often. Kevin and I really took this to heart this past year when he challenged all of the church body to tip generously when we go out to eat. He wondered what that could look like across our community if everyone did that. Stan has challenged us before on this, but it really landed on us this most recent time. I have to say, we have had a blast tipping generously these past several months. Its funny, because we never see the staff get their tip, but we imagine what they must think when they see what we have left. (As a former waitress, I don’t have a problem imagining this.)
This generosity we saw in Zach wasn’t the first time we had seen something like that. Earlier in the summer Courtney’s boyfriend had taken her out to lunch and she asked to leave the tip. She left a gigantic tip and she told us how fun it was to leave it and walk away! Again, I love this.
I write this not to boast of our generosity, I write it this for these reasons:
- To point out the impact one person had by issuing a challenge. One person influenced much giving.
- Our kids are watching what we are doing – this can be good news or scary news – I guess it depends on what we are doing!
- We are influencing our kids through our actions. We are. They see what we do and they do it too. What are we doing?
All good things to ponder.