This Tip is a little different and I had a difficult time thinking of a title for it. Let me begin by saying that I wanted to use an unusual title because I wanted to grab your attention. You may feel free to send flowers to anyone’s funeral that you would like. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing that. However, I want to share a different twist to this idea that has helped mold and shape my life.
In the summer months of 1971, I was the Youth Director of Hillside Baptist Church in Atlanta. It was my very first job out of college. I was so excited! It had been an excellent summer and many of the youth had turned their lives around. I saw some real healing take place in many of their family relationships.
One day I received a phone call from a lady by the name of Mrs. Merck. She asked if she could come to the church to visit with me. Of course, I agreed. At the appointed time, she walked into my office and shut the door. I immediately felt fear. I thought I was in trouble! She sat down, looked at me and said, “I just wanted to tell you that I will not be sending any flowers to your funeral!” Then she just sat there and stared at me. I was even more uncomfortable! First of all, I was not aware that I would be dying soon and, second, I was wondering why she would not want to send any flowers to my funeral. She went on to explain that she was very grateful for the work that I had done in the church as well as in her own family. As long as I live, I will never forget what she said to me next. She looked at me and said, “Robert, have you every thought about what happens when a person dies? People stop what they are doing, get dressed up, take time off work, buy flowers and go to view the person who just passed away. You know something? It does not do the person who died one bit of good! They do not know anyone has come to see them and they are not able to appreciate the flowers they have received!” She then said, “I just wanted to come and give you some ‘flowers’ today. I wanted to give you words of encouragement and tell you how much you mean to me, to my family and to this church. I wanted to tell you that I think you are a wonderful person and I will be praying that God will guide your life. And, by the way, when you die, I will not be coming to your funeral. I will probably die first anyway, but if not, I still will not send flowers. I wanted to give them to you today.” She gave me a big smile, hugged my neck, and left my office. That was 43 years ago and I have never forgotten that meeting. I could not help but think about the power of her words, “I am not going to send flowers to your funeral. I want to give them to you today.”
Let me reiterate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sending flowers to a funeral. But, wouldn’t it be so much more powerful to send them while a person is alive and can enjoy them? Of course, by now you know that I am not just talking about actual flowers. I am talking about words of kindness, words of encouragement and words of gratitude. It is nice to receive flowers, gifts, and presents for birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. But, there is nothing better than having someone give you words of encouragement and tell you what a wonderful person they think you are and what a great job you are doing while you are still alive and are able to receive them!
Let me encourage you to spend a little time thinking about someone to whom you need to send some “flowers”. If you heard that they had died, you would stop what you were doing, put on your nicest clothes, buy them some flowers and go see them.
Unfortunately, the departed loved one would not know about any of your efforts. You would probably stand around his or her casket and tell people what a wonderful person they were to you. Why not tell them now while you still have a chance to do so? Why not extend some love and kindness to them now while they are still alive and can receive your gift of words and encouragement while they have time to enjoy them?!
This is an incredible concept that has had a powerful impact on my life since Mrs. Merck gave it to me so long ago. I have been practicing it for more than 43 years and I see the rich benefits in my own life as well as in the lives of others. You will too!
Tip: Never send flowers to a funeral!
Have a great week! God bless you!