When Plan B is Better

I am a happier person when Plan A works. So are you. So are most people. Plan A is what is on our calendar or To-Do list for the day. It’s what we expect to do and usually prefer to do. But it isn’t always possible to do Plan A. The schedule changes or a problem arises unexpectedly or something else forces us to go to Plan B. (If you’re like me, you spend more time in Plan B or C or W, it seems, than with Plan A!)

Weather is one of the things that often leads to Plan B. Such was the case this week when a winter storm moved across the eastern part of the U.S. on Martin Luther King weekend. Whatever was planned for MLK Day including parades, speeches in large gathering, or just everyday activities went out the window and a lot of people went to Plan B.

This is exactly what happened in Bethel Park, PA, a community of about 32,000 people on the fringe of Pittsburg. The storm dumped about a foot of snow on Bethel Park. People were stuck at home. Elderly people could not get out at all even if they wanted to.

Plan B

The local high school football team had planned to go to the school on this holiday and lift weights. That was Plan A. But Coach Brian DeLallo sent this message to the team: “Due to expected severe weather, Monday’s weightlifting workout has been cancelled. Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money—that’s our Monday workout.” Apparently, “shovel day” began as a tradition for the high school football team in 2002. Monday the team shoveled the driveways and walkways of about 100 homes and planned to go back this week to do others they couldn’t get to Monday.

When Plan B is Serving Others, it is Better than Plan A

Serving others trumps many of our plans, especially what we plan to do for ourselves. Unfortunately, unless something happens to detour us from Plan A, we miss the blessings of serving. I’m going to go out on a limb when I say serving others is always better than serving ourselves. Better for us and better for the person we serve. At the very least it creates good will and sometimes may lead to a completely new direction for those we serve.

Have you been bothered by that part of the routine instructions from flight attendants when you fly about the oxygen masks—put your mask on first then help little children? That’s counterintuitive! We default to helping children and elderly before we help ourselves because they cannot do for themselves. I do realize flight attendants’ instructions regarding oxygen masks are the right things to do in those unusual circumstances, but it still sounds strange.

People Being Served

A 74-year-old woman in Bethel Park, PA, was worried when she first saw the heavy snowfall Sunday/Monday. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do? There’s no way I can get out there and shovel myself out,’” she said. She was recovering from shoulder surgery and didn’t have family members to help her. A few hours later she heard a knock on her door and when she opened the door, she saw two teenage boys standing on her porch with shovels.

“I couldn’t believe it… and they didn’t want a single penny to do it.”

This is not just about snow. It’s not about substituting shoveling snow for weightlifting for athletes. It’s about the chance to show your neighbors you care about them. It’s about seeing a need and meeting that need. It’s about raising the level of hope and good will in the entire community, AND because this story was reported by The Washington Post, inspiring people everywhere to do what they can to serve their neighbors.

People Serving

One of the football players said, “It was a fun way to spend the day. We just kept going until we’d done six houses. We even skipped out on having lunch.” If that isn’t proof that serving others is always better than serving ourselves, I don’t know what is. When have you heard a teenage boy skip a meal for anything?! Do you think that would have happened if he’d spent the day lifting weights?

Another player said, “I like helping other people, and I love the snow, so it was fun to get a workout outside. It was cool to see how happy people were when we showed up.”

Lasting Value

This story is uplifting on so many levels. I like it for all the reasons shared in this blog, but the thing I like most about it is the fact that those young men will not forget that experience. It will be a MLK Day to remember for a long time. And here’s the best part—this experience will continue to bear fruit in their lives for a long time, . . . long after the muscles they would have developed in their normal workout have gone flabby and football is a faint memory.

Their coach just may have done more for his players than Xs and Os can ever do. He came up with a Plan B that was way better than Plan A!

Your thoughts?

When have you had to go to Plan B and it was better than your original plans? When has Plan B or C or whatever led you into a memorable time of serving others? I’d like to hear your story.

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.

6 responses to “When Plan B is Better”

  1. David Foster says:

    David – I think this kind of goes along with your Plan B story. The other day I was in line at Panera. I bought a coffee and blueberry muffin. After paying at the drive through window, and exiting around the building, I saw a police car in the adjacent parking lot. The officer was obviously doing paperwork. Something told me to give my muffin to this officer. I drove over to his car, and rolled my window down. He got out with a bit of an attitude it seemed – perturbed I’m sure for being interrupted – and came over to my car. I just said, “I bought you this blueberry muffin”. His expression changed and he broke into a huge smile. I let him know how much I appreciated what he and his fellow officers do. He responded that it was a tough job, especially lately, and he thanked me. We spoke for a few more moments, and I drove away. Hopefully he appreciated the gesture and enjoyed the muffin, but I drove off knowing I was the one who received a blessing that day.

    I pray for, and give thanks for, our police officers and all of our first responders.

    • David Crocker says:

      Dave, thanks so much for the story. This is a great example of how serving builds community and/or strengthens relationships. Thanks for taking the time to tell your story.

  2. Gene says:

    A Coach has a special place in an athlete’s heart and if a coach is promoting service, that is bound to be impactful, well into their adult lives. Thanks for the story Doc.

    • Novella McClung says:

      Our ministry at the Baptist Concern Center, SLC, UT – the long, busy, 12 hour day had ended. Plan A was to go home, go to prayer meeting and then rest. A call from a Spanish pastor told us to call a man looking for us. The local representative of the Red Cross needed help with displaced people due to a hostage situation in the area. Back to Center (the DOM/wife came to help too). We spent the next 6 hours ministering to shoeless, coatless, babies in diapers, distraught people via hot chocolate, diapers, clothes from our closet, food and love. Home after 2:00 am. But God’s B plan was a blessing for those who were hurting but a bigger blessing for us. The Red Cross man said, “When I saw the name Southern Baptist on your building, I knew you would help.”

      • David Crocker says:

        You’ve hit the nail on the head again, Novella. We seem to be singing from the same hymnbook most of the time. I hope you’re on pitch! 🙂

    • David Crocker says:

      I totally agree w/ what you say about a coach’s influence. Clearly, the coach in Bethel Park, PA gets it!

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