Feeling Good vs. Doing Good

The above five words have been on my mind for several months. Let me begin by using a fairly innocuous example. I live in a city where it is not uncommon to see people standing at an intersection holding a cardboard sign that says they are hungry. I will leave the discussion as to the veracity of the sign holder to you. For now let’s just assume the need is real. The light turns red, and there they are right at your window. Suddenly, the latte in your cup holder seems rather extravagant and you give the sign holder a few small bills. The light turns green and off you go. Again, assuming the sign holder’s need is legitimate, how do you feel about parting with some spare cash? 

Probably, you are feeling good, maybe even very good, but have you really done anything that will impact his situation? I fear that our society is increasingly becoming accustomed to feeling good with out really doing much in the way of lasting good. I welcome efforts that make us and others feel good. I have been a part of feeding the homeless, helping the needy on Thanksgiving Day, as well as numerous mission trips in the States and Eastern Europe. I “did good” on all of those endeavors and I felt good, but, honestly, I didn’t make a lasting difference.

My thinking was challenged along these lines a number of years ago, when I heard a speaker talk about his work among the homeless in DC. He began by volunteering on a daily serving line for the DC area homeless. He noticed the servers knew the names of many of those they were serving. He quickly realized that as good as the effort was, they were not really helping the homeless. The speaker continued his work with DC homeless folks. In fact he took over all such efforts in the DC area. The free meals continued, but he added education, job training, and life skills to the outreach. “Feeling Good” was to show up and serve food. “Doing Good” was helping the homeless become self-sufficient again. He work was a massive success.

We are a compassionate nation. Perhaps none other compares to our generosity. The needs are great all around us in our communities, our places of worship, our neighborhoods, and even in our families. May God help us to find opportunities and avenues to do good to those who need it most. May God also open your hearts to the seniors around you, as well as, worthy organizations such as Elder Source.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries

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