Good for something

You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence.  ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

I love this quote. In a season of electoral craziness, with candidates promising the moon, this message reminds me of the simple calling to be a light, and do what I can.

I don’t always have light to share. Some days I struggle to keep my little flame burning. We all have days that challenge, days that drain.

But lots of days I do have something to offer…encouragement, some word or act that makes a difference.

I want to be good for something, good for someone. There’s a deep satisfaction and sense of joy that comes from making a difference, from service, and that’s what I want in my life.

There are so many ways to be good for something. Maybe you’re in a helping profession, and opportunities to do good are everywhere in your life. If you’re a teacher, a healer, a counselor, minister, a caregiver, a protector, then you likely only have to go about your daily work to accomplish this.

Some of us have less clear paths to serving and doing good. But if you interact with people at all, surely you can find some way to be of use. Even the old-fashioned idea of being neighborly counts.

Whether you’re looking for ways to contribute in a physical sense, or opportunities to mentor, to share your life experience and wisdom, there’s always need.

When I think of mentors, I usually think of elders who share wisdom with the inexperienced and the young. I think of people who are balanced and kind, who understand challenges and see opportunities.

But you don’t have to be old in age to have knowledge to share…think of seven-year-olds helping-five-year-olds, high-schoolers helping middle-schoolers, college kids tutoring high school students.

Think of entrepreneurs encouraging those who want to leave their corporate jobs. This role is more about having experience to share than it is a function of age, or position.

The role of mentors is well-established and respected, and for good reason. It’s easier to do something new if you have someone coaching you along the way, guiding your steps, raining down encouragement and support on your efforts.

The most important thing about mentoring, I believe, is your approach: mentor with respect, and with humility.

No one appreciates being talked-down to. That’s not mentoring. If you have advice, suggestions, wisdom to share, do it in a way that shows respect for what your hearer is going through.

No one appreciates a know-it-all. If you mentor, do it from a perspective that no one knows all, or gets it right all the time. You’re simply sharing what you know, today, from your experience. Your advice isn’t about knowing what’s best for someone else…it’s simply about knowing what worked, or didn’t work, in your story, and then sharing that story.

If your gift is serving in a hands-on way, nothing is more meaningful. Nothing can replace the person who shows up in person, who sits with those who mourn, weeps with those who weep, brings order after a storm or disaster or in a time of need, who puts their physical muscle to work for today’s issues and problems, for the struggle of now.

I used to undervalue showing up in person vs contributing financially, or in some other way, from a distance. I used to think one was as good as another.

Let me tell you: I’ve lived in some of the forgotten and lost places of the world, and I know, nothing replaces showing up in person.


So there’s a place for mentoring…sharing from your experience, and helping someone look down their road, benefitting from mistakes and wisdom you relate.

And there’s a place for each of us to work alongside a neighbor, with a community, struggling with whatever situation they’re confronted with…hands-on, dug-in, side-by-side. It doesn’t get more real, more connected, more sincere, than when you’re face-to-face.

Pick one way, or both, to add your light to the world. Or expand what you’re doing, if you can, to do a bit more.

I challenge you to be good. But more than that, I challenge you to be good for something, for someone, more than yourself, other than yourself.

I promise, it will change you, and change your life.

Without sounding bold, brave, or boastful, (I hope)…I’m living it. I can tell you with certainty…doing good, being good for something…will change you, energize you, and fill you.

~ Sheila


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