On Being Useful

An hour glass and glass vase/planter purchased on garage sales that I thought were useful

I like going to garage sales. You never know what great buy you’ll come upon. As I hold the object, delighted at the low price on the sticker, I ask myself a question: “Do I need this?” “Is it useful?”

Being useful is important to me, not just when reflecting on garage sale items but also when it comes to me. Am I useful? Best selling author Robert Fulghum asks a question on his web site/blog, “Why do I continue to write?” He then answers his own question, “To be useful.”

I can relate to Fulghum. I too write to be useful. I hope you find these writings of mine useful. I’m certain that Fulghum and Claassen aren’t the only ones who want to be useful. I’m certain you want to count yourself among us.

Fulghum writes these encouraging words, “Often, without realizing it, we fill important places in other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, co-workers, and neighbors.”

It’s a good feeling to know we’re useful. It’s a yucky feeling to feel useless. Sometimes we feel yucky!

The truth is that we all have people within our sphere of influence. When we doubt this, all we need to do is think of how many people over whom we have the power to ruin their day by being selfish, judgmental, intolerant, or just generally obnoxious. The opposite, then, is also true. We have the power to make their day!

Being useful often requires being intentional, pro-active about connecting with others in positive ways. Who can we connect with through a face-to-face encounter, a letter, a phone call, or even texting and messaging today or maybe tomorrow?

What personally motivates me to be useful to others is that first and foremost I’m under the conviction that God wants me to be useful to Him. I find that when I decide to be useful to Him it almost always involves being useful to others; it’s just the way He’s designed it.

I can recall it being said on more than one occasion by one person to another, usually by a person who’s working to a person nearby who’s not working, “Here, make yourself useful,” as they hand them a broom, shovel, or some other tool. The challenge is there for each of us, a challenge worth accepting, for it’s what makes life meaningful, “Make yourself useful!”

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25, English Standard Version)


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