Little Billy would walk the block to his Grandpa’s house every afternoon to visit. It was the highlight of his Grandpa’s day. Sometimes they would swing, sometimes fish, sometimes play catch, and sometimes just talk.
But one day Billy’s visits stopped. Grandpa call Billy’s mother, but she would only say that Billy was busy that afternoon. With great disappointment, the old Grandpa finally concluded that his grandson was just “too busy” to continue his afternoon visits.
Two weeks later Billy showed up at his Grandpa’s door. He held out a painted pottery bowl and said, “Here Grandpa, I have been making this for you. That’s why I could not come to see you!”
“Billy, I love your gift so much. I will cherish it and put it in my kitchen window. But if you ever decide to make me another gift, please remember that the gift I value more than anything else is just the gift of the time we spend together!”
So it is with most of our friends. It is the gift of “the giver himself” that is much more desired than the gifts he gives.
Inevitably, there will times when our friends forget to call us, or fail to thank us, or feel that other priorities take precedence over us. Extending the gift of patience and “cutting them some slack” will keep us from being so disappointed every time they do not measure up to our expectations.
3. The Gift of Empathy. Empathy means “Your pain in my heart.” It is a priceless gift that extends beyond feeling for someone to feeling with someone.
One does not have to personally experience every situation of life to be able to identify with someone who is hurting. As a former Pastor I remember a lady who had lost her husband in a tragic accident telling me what it was like to go home after his funeral and see his work boots by the back door.
I began to visualize details of what it must be like to be going through the trials that my church people were going through. Doing that, plus walking through the heartaches with them, developed much more of an ability to be empathetic with people.
Translating their hurt into the details of our world – that’s what I’m talking about. The person who can do this will develop life-long friends.
4. The Gift of Listening. Wouldn’t you agree that the reason many of us are not empathetic, is because we do not really listen when people share their problems with us?
We want the person to quickly summarize their situation so we can prescribe the solution and move on. I am still learning, as are most men, that people do not usually want you to heal their problem; they just want you to hear about it!
I know of few things that are more precious than a friend who is a good listener. Empathetic people usually get that way by being good listeners. Use our ears and our mouths in proportion to the way they were given – twice as much hearing as talking!
5. The Gift of Encouragement. People who are encouragers seem to have more friends, because encouragement attracts people like a magnet!
An unexpected card, a text, a call, a visit, an email, or an invitation to coffee – it does not have to be much to be deeply appreciated. It can literally transform a dismal day into an enjoyable day. It can be like a cool drink in the midst of a dry desert!
Wouldn’t it be a great idea if each morning we determined to encourage at least one person before the day is over? That type of a habit would result in a lot of changed people – not just the ones who are encouraged, but also the ones who are doing the encouraging.
Gifts do not have to cost much to be costly. In fact, there is usually not a direct correlation between the two. The costliest gifts are priceless gifts because they include a part of us.
So, carefully consider what gifts you will send this year. Someone wise person said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
© Jim Garnett