Serving as Random Acts of Kindness

It isn’t often that the calendar supports our consistent call for people to serve others, but it happens this week. Random Acts of Kindness Day is Friday, February 17.

Where it came from

Wikipedia says Random Acts of Kindness goes back to a “random” act by one Anne Herbert in 1982 in Saulsalito, California, when she wrote on a restaurant placemat: “Practice random and senseless acts of beauty.” Somehow (I couldn’t find out how, but I suspect it was word-of-mouth–the proven best way for an idea to go viral), the idea caught on with bumper stickers and other signs encouraging readers to pay it forward by doing simple things to serve others.

Eventually, a college professor challenged his students to do random acts of kindness after which the class talked about their experiences. Could this be the basis of the wildly popular movie “Pay it Forward?” Whether or not it is, the concept of paying it forward has become viral in raising awareness and practice of serving others.

Who keeps RAK going?

It is doubtful that Anne Herbert wrote what she did on that restaurant placemat expecting it to go viral, but it did. As the concept picked up steam, a fellow by the name of Glennon established the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation——and it moved from the Bay area to Denver. The Foundation promotes random acts of kindness year-round with tons of ideas for kind acts in school, home, work, business, and pretty much everywhere. If you have seen or heard something encouraging you to do random acts of kindness, especially on February 17, chances are it can be traced back to the RAK Foundation.

As you might imagine, I am intrigued why this idea of serving others has caught on when others have not. Part of the answer is the work of the well-funded, creative, passionate RAK Foundation. I especially like their watchword: Make Kindness the Norm.

I believe a bigger part of the answer to the success of the RAK concept is that many, many people recognize the value of kindness and truly want to be part of the solution to the problems of this world. Still another part of the answer is the simplicity of RAK. A random act of kindness can be spontaneous or planned, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better. People like simple.

Memorable random acts of kindness

Some people point to the extraordinary decision by the German and English troops on the front lines of World War I in 1914 to cease fighting for a day because it was Christmas Day as the most famous RAK. Never mind that “random acts of kindness” had not been thought of or written about at the time. Nor was it the first. History is chocked full of stories in which kindness was a major part.

The most remarkable random act of kindness I have heard is the day when 288 consecutive customers paid for the customers’ order following them at a fast food restaurant drive-through! 288!! Talk about catching on! I wish I could have seen that.

Some ideas for your random acts of kindness

I hope you will perform several random acts of kindness Friday. You will enjoy it. I guarantee it. Need ideas as to what you can do? Let me offer a few, most of which are not original.

  • Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how well they parked.
  • Leave coupons for grocery items on the shelf where those items are stocked.
  • Encounter a store employee who is unusually kind? Take 5 minutes to tell the store manager.
  • Donate old towels and blankets to an animal shelter.
  • Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
  • Compliment 5 people.
  • Write a positive comment on your favorite blog (like this one!).
  • Leave a kind note or goodies in your mailbox for the mail carrier.
  • Send 5 positive text messages to people right now.

How was it?

PLEASE let me know what you did and how it went. Did you get a response from the person/people to whom you showed kindness? How did you feel about being kind to others?

Written by:
David Crocker

David Crocker is the Founder of Operation Inasmuch. He was a pastor for 38 years prior to launching the Inasmuch ministry which has equipped more than 2,100 churches in 25 states and several other countries to mobilize their members in mercy ministry. David’s passion is seeing believers serving as the hands and feet of Jesus as a lifestyle.

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