By MARTIN E. WILLOUGHBY, JR.
I recently relocated my family to Memphis as a part of my job with Butler Snow Advisory Services. As I walked the first day into the lobby of the office building where I now work, I noticed a sight I had seen on previous visits. A tall, well-dressed gentleman was walking around greeting everyone that walked into the building. It didn’t matter if the visitor was old or young, man or woman, white or black, this gentlemen was engaging with them, sharing high fives, knuckle bumps, and plenty of laughs. As the days went by, I started to linger around a little in the lobby just to watch this activity a little closer. I enjoyed watching seeing the smiles that he was able to get out of people. Who knows what kind of morning many of these people may have had, but he was determined to spread some joy into their day.
Being a curious person, I had to learn more about this situation. I have been in a lot of office buildings, and I have never seen a dynamic like this before. I learned that this joy spreader was named Darryl and that he had worked for the building management for over 20 years. I am still not exactly sure what his official job is, but I do know what he does each day is make the workers and guests in this building feel welcome. I also learned that the source of his joy was his relationship with his savior Jesus Christ, and that he had been a gospel musician.
I asked him about how all of this started, and he shared that when he first started working there that he would do just like he does today and greet people enthusiastically—although few people would respond. We laughed as he described how people would stare at their shoes or pretend not to see him. That did not stop him. He would shout out to them with a big grin on his face and wish them a great day anyway. As he shared with me, “I don’t speak to people to get a reaction from them. I just want to share some joy with people.” Reflecting back on his musical days, he shared a line from a gospel song he used to sing, “This joy that I have the world did not give to me, and it surely can’t take it away.”
While we all have different personalities and there are many challenges and problems in life, we as Christians have every reason to rejoice and be joyful regardless of our circumstances. In a strange and confusing world, we have certainty and hope. We know our ultimate destination. We live with one foot in this world and one in the next. No matter how hard we try to fix ourselves, we can never be good enough. However, through the blood of Christ, we are forgiven and adopted sons and daughters.
Darryl and I discussed that some days he may not be quite as energetic or feel like greeting everyone with the same level of enthusiasm as normal. However, he knows the real secret, “It’s not about me!” He shares God’s love and joy each day because it is about others. He takes serious Jesus’ words to love God and love others. When we take the focus off of ourselves, our “cup” is able to overflow, and we can share love and joy with others. Whether in school, or a nursing home, or anywhere in between, we can be encouragers and givers of joy in our spheres of influence. Who can you bless today by bringing some joy?