Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
I was traveling to a small town in Arkansas on an assignment for my job when I noticed I needed gas in my car. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere so when I turned a corner and saw a gas station in the distance, I was relieved. As I approached the pumps, I noticed that they were not pay at the pump and became slightly agitated. I was in a hurry to reach my destination and this was a setback I had not planned. I would have to go inside to pay and it would cost me a few extra minutes of my time.
I finished up pumping my gas and went inside to pay. There was a woman at the counter with a smile on her face. I smiled back and though I wasn’t there long, we had a pleasant conversation. I left that place feeling uplifted and I believe she was too just from seeing a friendly face and hearing a genuine “how are you?” I walked away from that little gas station with no “pay at the pump” pumps with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart.
I resumed my drive and began to think. How often do we miss chances of personal connection because we are too busy to stop? How often do we miss out on opportunities to show Jesus’ love because we are lost in our own little world?
Our society is changing. Drastically. And fast. More and more inventions are being created that cater to our busy lifestyles and cut out the interpersonal communication with others. We are being launched into a selfish cycle of individualism and sometimes we don’t even realize it.
I’ve never thought about pay at the pump being one of these things that contributes to the lack of personal connection until that day. It costs society, if only a little, the vitality of human connection and the chance of reaching someone with the love of Christ.
There are a few things I thought of that we can do to counteract the conveniences that lend to us being self centered.
1. Rather than use pay at the pump, go inside to pay. Make an intentional effort to look around for someone you may be able to encourage. It could just be a friendly smile at the attendant. It might just be the smile that reaches their heart.
2. Instead of sending a text to a friend, call to talk and really listen. Don’t just talk about yourself. Or take them a small token of your thoughtfulness. Make an extra batch of cookies when cooking with your family. Buy something on clearance that made you think of them (or full price if you feel you can! 😉 ). Pick out a card to give them and hand deliver, or make one.
3. Go to the bank instead of banking online. Go inside instead of the drive through.
4. Shop in stores instead of online. There have been so many times I’ve run into someone that needed encouragement when I’ve been shopping!
All of these conveniences that cut out interpersonal connection makes life easier for us. And with the busyness of life, it is much appreciated! But what if we looked at it differently? What if we took the extra 5-10 minutes we spent on facebook or twitter to leave our house early so that we weren’t in such a rush? What if because of that, we opened our eyes to others and had time to make someone’s day by our smile and encouragement?
I believe in a world of modern conveniences that we must make an extra effort to communicate with others and get outside our little busy world. Pay at the pump costs us. It costs us face to face interaction, as so many other things today do. Let’s counteract it. Let’s take some time to “look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.”
What are some other ways we can do this?