It happened last week. I was waiting in a restaurant for a meeting with the officers of the North Conference Council on Youth Ministry, when a man walked in, looked at me, and asked, "Are you Bishop Coyner?" It turned out that he is a layperson who served on a conference committee with me about 20 years ago. We visited briefly, and then he went to his table. Meanwhile the youth arrived and we went to another table to eat dinner.

But when the waitress came around after our meal to bring the check, instead she handed me a card which said "Practice Random Acts of Kindness." In response to my confused expression, she explained, "That man who was eating over there paid the bill for all of you and asked me to give you this note." I was impressed with his generosity and his kindness, and the youth eating with me were thrilled. They kept saying, "Wow! Wait 'til we tell our friends about this. It is just like the movie 'Pay It Forward.'"

They were right. Practicing random acts of kindness is a way of giving a gift to someone else, knowing that we will never be repaid, but trusting that the kindness will be passed along to others. Giving works that way -- one good gift seems to prompt additional giving. We don't give in order to receive, we give in order to create a whole atmosphere of generosity and kindness which can affect others.

As both conferences in Indiana are emphasizing Stewardship and tithing as a model of stewardship, I hope that we keep in mind WHY we give. We give because we have received. We are recipients of both planned and random acts of kindness, and that is why we give to someone else.

So, I am the recipient of a "random act of kindness" -- and now it is my turn to give.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner