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While some of us spend our lives looking for blessings in the midst of chaos, others spend their time being the blessing. And by treating others with a willing heart and open mind, the world slowly mends itself from hate and division. 

In this episode, you’ll learn why anyone can be a blessing to others and how giving a simple smile today strengthens the bonds of social engagement for a better tomorrow. 

Show Highlights Include:

  • What a plate of food reveals about the bonds of social engagement – and how to encourage and love your neighbors (no matter your circumstances). (0:25)
  • Why social media activism is limited to the like button – and the small acts of kindness that bring immediate change to your community.  (2:30)
  • The ‘Bruce Almighty’ lessons of looking for blessings – and how to be one instead. (5:45)
  • What Sister Jean says about encouraging others on a daily basis and how you can be a blessing through every step in life (regardless of what’s happening in the world). (6:55)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. I couldn't wait to get in the studio and talk about this particular topic. I titled it “Be the Blessing”.

Now, why is this topic important? Easy. Social engagement is the glue that keeps us society together and these days many would argue that we're losing that cohesion. Ours is a world that has increasingly become more privatized, more exclusive, more inward, especially with regard to our social interactions. I really believe that this has impacted our desire to bless other people. [01:04.0]

Let me give you a few examples of how far we have come from that social interaction of blessing and loving and encouraging our neighbors. As a child growing up in the 1960s, I don't remember one of my neighbors who had a garage, but we all had front porches and, oh, did we have fun that front porch represented the place of civic engagement? That's right. It was the place of fellowship. It was the place of fun. We would go to different porches. Different people would come to our porches. It was so enjoyable.

Speaking of neighbors, I felt often days like I was a delivery boy for my mother and father's food. Let me explain. It didn't matter what we were cooking, my mother would issue this command and dispatch my brother and I to take a portion of our meal to a neighbor. Didn't matter what we were cooking. I can hear my mother as clear as day. [02:00.3]


“Yes, Mother.”

“Take these beans next door to Mrs. Johnson's house and make sure she eats them while they're hot.”

It took me years to realize that my mother was participating in the social cohesion of our neighborhood by looking out for her neighbor, by being the blessing, not wanting a blessing, but by being the blessing.

Years later, I would go to college in the ’70s and my major was called mass communication. Does that sound prehistoric? I mean, it was communication for the masses. We had just a few platforms, print or electronic journalism. Print would represent newspapers, magazines. Electronic would represent radio, television and film.

Today, media applications are multi-variate, individualized and privatized, and it's causing some observers to argue that the effects of all of this social media produces a passivity that is replacing civic engagement. [03:09.8]

In fact, the writer of one article on the pros and cons of modern communication believes that social media is killing real activism and replacing it with what he calls “slacktivism.” While social media activism brings an increased awareness about societal issues, questions remain as to whether this awareness is translating into real change.

Some argue that social sharing has encouraged people to use computers and mobile phones to express their concerns without actually having to engage in activity with campaigns in real life, and as a result, their support is limited to pressing the like button and sharing information. [03:55.6]

All this, friend, stands to reason that a lack of social engagement is resulting in a lack of people blessing other people. We’re a bit more reluctant to bless others these days, and when it happens, it's headline news. Isn't it interesting that what was commonplace 50 years ago is headline news today?

But I want to encourage you to find a way to bless someone and bless them on a regular basis. I want to encourage you to be the blessing. You determine who. You choose how. But getting into the habit of blessing people can lessen the devastation that's been caused by hatred and division. A blessing strengthens the glue that holds us together. It's just like my mama dispatching me to the neighbor's house with a hot pot of beans. [04:51.0]

Here's the great news, y’all. Anyone can be a blessing, no degree needed, no financial requirement, no level of status necessary, just vision and a willing heart. I often ask God to help me see what I don't see with these human eyes and oftentimes I see hurt and pain. I see disappointment.

I have come to realize that you can't fix everything, but you can make it more bearable sometimes with just a smile, just a kind word, just a timely note, just letting someone know that you're thinking about them. Blessings come in all shapes and sizes and there's no age limit or likely candidate when it comes to offering a blessing, just one person willing to offer a divine spark.

Years ago, there was this funny movie titled Bruce Almighty. Do any of you remember that movie? Jim Carrey portrays Bruce Nolan. Bruce Nolan is a down-on-his-luck television reporter who complains to God. God was played by Morgan Freeman. Bruce thinks that God could do a better job. God allows Bruce to be God for a while. [06:05.5]

What does Bruce Nolan do? He abuses the powers, but Bruce eventually gets it and uses his powers for good. The lesson in the movie, though skewed a bit, is this: instead of constantly asking for a miracle, why not be the miracle? Back in the final scene, we hear the lead character, Jim Carrey, say, “I'm Bruce Nolan for Eyewitness News,” reminding all the folks down here at the blood drive to be the miracle. I like that line.

One of the great honors in my life was serving as chaplain for the Texas A&M football team. I'll always be grateful to legendary football coach R.C. Slocum for this awesome opportunity to impact and, hopefully, bless young lives. But today I want to introduce you to another chaplain, the most unlikely chaplain, perhaps in college sports. Why? Because her entire life has been about blessing others. That's why I want to introduce you to Jean Dolores Schmidt, affectionately known as Sister Jean. Oh, baby. [07:17.8]

If you don't know anything about Sister Jean, stay tuned, and then I would encourage you to Google her. Look her up. Read about her. Get to know her. This woman is a living blessing every day of her life. Get this. She was born in San Francisco, Calif., on August 21, 1919, come on, somebody. She's 101 years old and she's still kicking. She was reared in Northern California.

She first thought of becoming a nun in the third grade, but first things first, she had to make her high school basketball team. She played girls' basketball in high school. She entered the Sisters of Charity Covenant as an adult and then she received her BA from Mount St. Mary's College, which is now Mount St. Mary's University. She got her BA in 1949, and then she moved to Chicago. [08:13.2]

She worked at a college call, Mundelein College in Chicago, which merged with Loyola in 1991. Listen to this, y’all. Since 1994, Sister Jean has served as team chaplain for the Loyola Chicago Men's Basketball Team. Sister Jean became legendary during the team's historic run a few years ago. Do y'all remember that? She became so popular that she has her own bobblehead, oh, baby. With their number one fan at court side, the team had a string of upset wins. Loyola reached the final four in 2018 during the men's NCAA basketball tournament. [0 8:58.0]

Recently, I read that 101-year-old Sister Jean is fully vaccinated, cleared by Loyola University officials to travel with the team to the annual NCAA tournament, known as March Madness. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal stated, quote, “Sister Jean has outrun to pandemics. Can she inspire a second Loyola tournament run? At 101 years old, the Ramblers' famous chaplain/scout was born during the Spanish flu. She's now thriving and stays virtually engaged even through a pandemic.”

Sister Jean who once said years ago, “I went to Pebble Beach to meditate,” said, “This isn't for me. I’ve got to get back to Chicago and go to work,” still has office hours. You heard me right, 101, Sister Jean still has office hours. She lives and works out of a freshman dorm. You can visit her there, but just don't bother her during basketball games. [10:03.0]

Recently interviewed on the Today Show, Sister Jean said, “People say to me, You look so serious during the games. I tell them I'm concentrating on the game. I'm taking every step with everyone one of those players.” In fact, before every game, Coach Porter Moser says Sister Jean not only offers a prayer for the players, but a scouting report of the opponent.

Coach Moser, who I had the privilege of knowing while he was an assistant coach at Texas A&M tells the story of the first time he heard Sister Jean pray. It was Coach Moser's first game 10 years ago. Back then, Sister Jean would pray over a microphone in the basketball arena and she begins every prayer with “Good and gracious God.” [10:50.5]

According to Coach Moser's story, she began this night, his first night on the job, by saying “Good and gracious God, today we pray for the official’s eyesight.” Coach Moser said he looked up. He goes, “Did she actually say what I think she said?” Sister Jean goes on. “May the lens they look out have all the opponents’ fouls.” You’ve got to love Sister Jean.

Sister Jean, at 101 years of age, living in the freshmen dorm, Sister Jean, at 101 years of age, still encouraging students at Loyola, Chicago, Sister Jean, at 101 years of age, traveling with the men's basketball team, still being the blessing regardless of her age, regardless of her immobility, regardless of all the other variables, factors, situations or conditions that you could insert into her life. The question is what is our excuse? [12:05.0]

Friends, let me just make it clear to you that after examining and learning about Sister Jean, I think I would like to say to myself what I want to say to you right now. Every single day is a gift. It's not only a gift, but it is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to bless, encourage, uplift someone else. It might not mean taking some beans to a neighbor, but it might mean offering a smile, offering a word of encouragement, offering a gesture of help or goodwill to someone else.

What are you saying, Rick? Let's cease looking for a blessing and let's start today being the blessing. I want you to think about that for a few days, friends. [13:00.7]

That's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask, how you livin’?

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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