Random acts of kindness. Going out of your way to care for others. These things transform people, says Phil Stack, a retired psychologist and author of the book I Am a Good Person.
Phil, himself a modern-day good Samaritan (see link to Bible story below), has made doing good for others his life passion. In a phone conversation, Phil talked with me about his journey toward discovering the power of goodness and his desire to encourage others to make goodness their life passion, too.
His inspiration for doing good, Phil says, comes from the Holy Spirit, the universal goodness that pervades the whole universe. “God is all good,” says Phil. “Goodness flows from God. It’s a stream into a world with a need.” He adds that he believes this goodness is a natural part of each one of us.
Phil looks for an opportunity each day to make a difference in someone’s life—in small or big ways—whether it’s thanking the woman at the airline ticket counter or chatting with someone in a restaurant who looks lonely.
What he said reminded me of a small incident in my own life. I felt afraid, weighed down, depressed and even angry about the tension at my work. Racing from the office one day to find a quiet spot to eat, I wasn’t really looking where I was going. The next thing I knew, I tripped over an uneven part of the sidewalk and hit the ground with a thud.
On the ground on my hands and knees, I was feeling embarrassed and stunned, and tried to collect my thoughts. A man walked by, and seeing me, turned around and came back. He gave me his hand, pulled me up and walked with me a few steps as I dusted myself off. After I assured him I was fine, he gave me a quick hug and left.
I felt cared for, loved, transformed.
I was amazed by this man’s kindness and love. It was all I could think about for the rest of my lunch hour. And I noticed I was no longer thinking about the tension in the office. I felt cared for, loved, transformed. All the concerns I had were out the window, replaced by the memory of a stranger who took a minute to show me he cared.
Phil believes in the power of this kind of caring. His own desire to help others started when he was growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania during the Depression. Phil remembers his mother picking vegetables from their garden. By the time she got home, Phil says now, all the produce would be gone because she shared it with everyone she met.
“I was most impressed with God’s working to direct my life.”
Phil’s family was religious, but he admits his trust in God and in things spiritual came slowly to him. As he got older, spirituality started to take on more meaning as he discovered how he could pray more specifically and feel God’s guidance in his life. His conviction grew that God is all good and created man to do and to be good. “It was all very gradual,” says Phil. “I was most impressed with God’s working to direct my life.”
Prayer and Bible study became a daily part of Phil’s life. He says he is particularly inspired by the life and example of Christ Jesus and Jesus’ instruction to love your neighbor. Seeking to follow this example, Phil starts off his mornings with prayers to God and listens for ideas he can accomplish for the day. “I’m like a little bug with an antenna,” Phil muses. “Where am I going to be called? And then I pray that when I am called, I don’t miss my opportunity.”
Retired from his job, Phil found time to volunteer for a hospice, visiting patients in a nursing home. When he started his volunteer work, Phil longed to do something more for the patients to help them find peace in their lives. He prayed for the answer. Soon he was making greeting cards with special messages. “I send a couple hundred of these out whenever I hear that a person is in hospice care,” Phil says.
It wasn’t just enough for him to do good.
Phil explains that as he has grown in his understanding of God, so have his acts of doing good. But he felt it wasn’t just enough for him to do good. He wanted to celebrate it and include others aware of it. He started to write down his stories and the lessons they were teaching him. The result was his book I Am a Good Person. “Goodness, which is in the nature of God, flows through humans with purpose and good will so that pain and suffering may be transformed into peace and harmony,” Phil writes.
After talking with Phil, I felt I could also look for ways to help others, the way the stranger helped me the day I tripped on the sidewalk.
I remembered a woman named Margaret whom I used to take to church, but hadn’t contacted in a while. Learning she was in the hospital, I went to visit her with fresh roses from my garden. It was a sweet time for both of us as we sat and talked together. Margaret listened eagerly to my stories and made me laugh as she shared her own.
I heard later how much this little visit meant to her and how much she enjoyed my gift of roses. I cherished the time to set aside my own worries, concerns and to-do list to be reminded by this woman of what’s really important in life—to slow down and appreciate the good things we each bring to this world.
I’ll always remember Phil telling me that when we do good for others, we’re turning on the faucet to let God’s goodness flow to each one of us.
Article by Lori White, Original article here