The call lasted for about 30 minutes but at the end of the conversation, he asked “so what’s in it for you?” I acted like I didn’t understand and asked him to please explain. He said, you’ve been so nice to me from the first day, you’re offering to help me get stronger and you’ve spoken encouraging words, I just want to know what you’ll benefit from it. I laughed… I just remembered our first encounter.
From afar, I had sighted him walking down, pressing some buttons on his phone and also looking really tired but I was determined to speak to him. It took few minutes before he got closer, I smiled at him and started a conversation. It seemed like he was in a hurry to get to his destination but he did not mind the interruption. I didn’t conclude my message to Cassy cos I knew he needed to get home, so we exchanged contacts. That night, I sent an inspirational message to him and called the next day. Somehow, he opened up to me about what was bothering him – his 10 years relationship just ended and he has two daughters with his ex; he was going through emotional challenges and it was really weighing him down. I encouraged him to be strong and cast it all on God. Now back to the question..what was in it for me? I tried to understand why he would ask that question, and suddenly it hit me that it was I who initiated the conversation, the one calling and the one always checking up on him. He obviously thought I was being nice for a reason. My answer to his question was “my joy is to know that somehow, I am helping someone get back on their feet again; I am encouraging someone not to give up no matter how bad the situation may be and that’s what’s in it for me”. I did not blame Brian for asking the question, it’s the norm in our societies today to want something in return for any good deed. A typical example common in Nigeria is helping a driver who’s car just broke down on the highway…you’ll hear some guys saying “Oga, anything for the boys?” His car just broke down on the highway, you don’t know if he even has any money on him at the moment. We have so embraced the society that we find ourselves in and we take everything the way we see it, something has to give – but that shouldn’t be so. Ask yourself how many times you’ve actually done something nice for someone without expecting anything back.
It is difficult sometimes to invest your energy, time and resources in someone and not
expect something in return. In Uni, there were two guys I actually took as projects. I told God that I want to be the answer to the cry of the needy and I want to spend my life mending broken people so I was ready for the task ahead. They had both been written off by family members and tagged as “black sheep of the family” but I saw a light in them that they couldn’t even see in themselves. It cost me a lot, one of them had sickle cell anemia and smoked marijuana…he had no regard for his life. Anytime he was in the hospital, I would spend money visiting and buying stuff. His mum had gotten tired of crying and begging him to change so she stopped sending him money. He actually stole my phone sometime and sold it…but I forgave him and never gave up on him. It took months, but I kept at it, slowly but gradually his life started changing for the better. His mother actually wanted to meet me…she thought I was his girlfriend. Some of my friends thought I was crazy (loll) but I had a mission and 4 years after we graduated from uni, he called to thank me for helping him get through those days. His dissertation had my name in the acknowledgement page. The joy you get from such experience alone, is enough to keep being good to people even when there’s nothing in it for you. The second guy finally became a youth coordinator in his church many years later.
Never do good to people cos you’re expecting something in return; do it because you want to help, do it to add a smile to someone’s face, do it for the love of God. You may be the only one who can help that person move from point A – B, don’t ignore him/her cos you’re expecting something. Your reward may not come in a measure that can be weighed in monetary values but your good deeds will make ways for you where there may be no way.
Keep up the good work, live a life of purpose, think of ways to help and do it with a cheerful heart and expect nothing in return.