Simply Insider

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

It finally happened to me. I had heard about the practice, and had even participated a few times myself.  But I’d never actually been the recipient.

As is my daily routine, I was in line at Starbucks for an early dose of caffeine, some quiet time and writing. I spend a couple hours each morning in the same Starbucks, drinking the same drink, participating in the same ritual; I know the other regulars, and they know me.

And it was during my morning ritual that it happened. As I got ready to pay for my grande Awake Tea (only $1.95 by the way), the barista said, “Don’t worry about it, astarbucks kind woman in line ahead of you already paid for it.”  

My eyes quickly started scanning the area looking for somebody I knew or somebody who may know me. But because it was way earlier than normal, the place was fairly empty and none of the usual crowd had arrived….I couldn’t identify anybody who would have thought to buy me a drink. And then our eyes met.

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She was an older woman waiting for her drink, I knew it was her because as soon as our eyes met, she looked away hoping to conceal her identity, and her good deed.  I approached her and asked if we’d met before…if she attended Saddleback. Her reply: “No, we haven’t met, and I don’t go to church, but I thought you looked sort of tired and I wanted to put a smile on your face.”

It actually is the thought that matters! “I THOUGHT you looked sort of tired,” she said. So she gave me a gift- a gift worth $1.95. But it was worth so much more. An observant stranger with an extra $1.95 on her Starbucks card took the time to think about somebody other than herself. It made my day.

BOOM…the power of a gift!

Christmas is about giving gifts- God’s gift of his precious son and our gifts of meat and cheese packs and video games. But if we think about it…like, really THINK about it, every day can be about gifts- the gift of encouragement, forgiveness, a helping hand, a smile…and yes, a $1.95 grande Awake Tea.

You are reading this a week before Christmas. It may be that today, after reading this little article, you will find yourself Christmas shopping for meat and cheese packs and video games. My challenge for you is this: Don’t let today end without doing something small and unexpected for somebody who doesn’t see it coming.

It’s pretty easy to make somebody’s day, and it’s a powerful gift, IF you think about it.live_student_journal

*P.S.- Here’s another $1.95 day-maker: Make someone else’s day or your own with the Live Student Journal for only $1.95 while supplies last!





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  • Holly says:

    That’s awesome. Last year, around Christmas time, there were these news stories about people paying off other people’s KMART layaway balances. It was a beautiful thing.

    It reminds me so much of the heart of Bob Goff and Love Does. I think its important to show people (even those who won’t be able to reciprocate) how much they are loved just because they are another human being.

    Good stuff!

  • Melissa says:

    Earlier this week, a co-worker (whose mother unexpectedly passed away right before Thanksgiving) complimented my Christmas coffee mug and casually mentioned that she wished she had a festive mug for her coffee. Now, while my mug is huge and clunky, she enjoys sipping from a delicate cup with saucer. Over my lunch hour, I ran to the thrift store and was able to find her a Christmas cup with matching saucer for .75 cents. Only .75 cents and the joy this unexpected gift elicited was priceless – for both of us!

  • Larry Roy says:

    Kurt, you continue to amaze and delight me with your humor, wisdom, and truly remarkable understanding of what makes people do the things they do. The “little things” are too often overlooked in favor of the “bigger,” more complicated or more noticeable task, blessing, or gift.

    I have noticed a subtle yet ever increasing shift back towards the smaller, simpler things that have always defined and underlined the very basics of Christianity. Peace, hope, love, faith, encouragement, and strength through weakness…each pull us closer to each other even as we are irresistibly drawn towards Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for sharing this and for reminding us that there are still plenty of people out there hungering to be shown the way to everlasting life!

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