Pay It Forward

My parents were visiting this past weekend for Thanksgiving.  My mother brought up the idea that we should ‘pay it forward’ throughout our weekend and find ways to help others.  We frequently dropped our spare change in the red kettles for the  Salvation Army but felt like there was more we could do, even in the midst of all of our weekend plans.  One afternoon we bought a sandwich and Gatorade for a young man who was sitting with his eyes to the pavement holding a sign that read ‘Hungry.’  As I knelt down to give him the small meal, he looked up at me and with words of appreciation, took the meal, said God Bless You and quickly began to eat.  My parents and I did so much in our 5 days together but that one event stands out the most.  It has inspired me to do more.

This reminded me of the 2000 movie, Pay it Forward, which stars Haley Joel Osment as a young boy, named Trevor.  He has an idea for his social studies project after given the assignment to think of something to change the world and then put it into action.  Trevor decides that instead of paying others back for what they’ve done that he will repay with good deeds done to 3 people, with no expectation for a reward and encourage them to pay it forward.  In the end, Trevor’s actions change not only his life and those close to him but transforms the lives of people he has never met.

I found a website with 5 simple ideas to Pay it Forward this year.
1. Understand the concept of “Pay it forward”
2. To pay it forward doesn’t have to only mean using our money. It can mean using our time, talents, and love.
(Did you know that 65% of all residents in nursing homes do not get visitors during any given year.   What if each of us made the effort to spend an afternoon visiting with someone we know who is lonely.)
3. This is an opportunity to teach children how they can help others.
4. Keep it simple!
5. Realize that if you want the world to be a better place it starts with each of us.  We have to do our own part.

Wouldn’t it be great if each of us decided to Pay it Forward during the next 4 weeks of Advent!  We all have so much to be thankful for.  In this season of Light, may we be a light for others and share our God-given gifts with others.  Challenge your youth groups, families in your congregation, neighbors and friends to Pay it Forward as well.  I’d love to hear your responses!

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One Response to Pay It Forward

  1. pam says:

    We used the movie Pay it Forward as the corner stone of our annual youth retreat two years ago. We looked at big and small ways we could improve someone’s day or someone’s life. It was interesting to see how many youth felt this was something for grown-ups, something they couldn’t do because they didn’t have jobs or money.

    I think it is so important to stress for these kids that being grateful for what you have doesn’t mean you should help others just by putting money in a bucket, paying it forward is so much more than that. The youth were challenged to do as many kind things as they could in that weekend, even if it was asking someone to play cards, or refilling a glass at dinner. It was amazing how many little ways our youth can be kinder more courteous people toward one another, I think the experience really opened their eyes a bit.

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