A Missed Opportunity to Help
Last week I attended a convention and gave a couple of presentations. Traveling is not an adventure I enjoy; instead, it is a duty I endure. Knowing this—and that self-focus is not God-honoring or kingdom advancing—I asked God for opportunities to interact with and help others during my trip. This did indeed happen, especially after my presentations, but there was one opportunity I think I missed.
While staying at hotels, I always try to be nice to the staff who work behind the scenes, the employees who most guests tend to overlook, ignore, or see through. The maids at this hotel were always smiling and seemed happy, yet meaningful communication with them was hard, as it didn’t seem they knew much English and—save for a few common words—I know no Spanish. While English words were spoken between us, the dialogue often didn’t make sense.
I greeted one of the maids while awaiting the elevator and attempted to communicate, but it was as if she had merely been taught to phonetically say “good morning” and “have a nice day.” I imagined myself giving her $20 and smiled at the absurdity of it as I stepped onto the elevator. While God has directed me to give money to people in the past, it had never been like this, evasive and non-specific. Yet as I traveled downward, I began to wonder if I had indeed heard from God.
I briefly considered returning to the ninth floor and giving her a twenty-dollar bill. I could say, “I think God wants me to bless you with this” or, “I think God told me you need some money,” but if my words made no sense to her, she would be left to her own imagination to decipher the meaning of my gift.
She could very easily have reached the wrong conclusion. I shuddered at the thought of other men, with less than admirable intentions, having handed her cash in the past, not giving a gift, but expecting something in exchange.
It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized what I could have done. I could have gone to the front desk and requested an envelope, put the money inside and her name on the outside asked the manager to make sure she received it and given him the explanation.
I hope next time I will realize this right away, so I don’t have another missed opportunity.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.