“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life,  by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

James 3:13, NIV

dsc02525Pastel pink, yellow, and white flowers accented the tables in the retirement community’s dining room. Someone asked if my sister, who was the receptionist in the community center, liked pink and yellow. The event planner said, “We sure hope so.”

In the middle of the room overlooking the lake was a round table laden with fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers. Another held a large cake—one of two made for my sister’s fifteen-year retirement party. As the hour of celebration approached, streams of senior adults flowed into the community building’s lobby and took their place in the long line of guests. They’d come to wish her well as she closed one chapter of her life and began another.

As my sister greeted each resident by name, my niece and I witnessed an incredible outpouring of love. Most who came were able-bodied, but some walked with canes and walkers, rode in wheelchairs, or leaned on the arm of a loved one. No malady was going to hinder them from expressing their love and giving her their blessing.

It warmed my heart to see her greeted with tears, hugs, smiles, and laughter and to witness the results of her life well lived. So often streams of people and words of appreciation are reserved for a time when the recipient can no longer see or hear the impact they’ve made on those they encountered daily.

By the end of the ninety-minute celebration, over four hundred residents and staff had come through the line—the largest turnout for a retirement party the community had ever experienced.

What did my sister do that was so incredible? Her job. She was paid to serve the senior adults of this large community, so what was the big deal? Was there a secret ingredient to her success?

Yes, there was: L-O-V-E.

The residents knew that my sister loved them. “She always greeted us with a smile. She never dismissed our requests by saying it wasn’t her job. She always showed us that she cared.”

Earlier in the week, a lady came by my sister’s desk to say that she didn’t know how they would get along without her. My sister assured her that everyone would grow to love the person coming to fill her position. The resident stepped away from the desk with her walker, then turned to say again how much she’d miss her. Then she added, “But we’ll get over it.”

Humorous, yes. But we know that they will. Someone will fill my sister’s vacant place, and life will go on. In the workplace, no one is irreplaceable, but there’s one thing we can do wherever we are that no one else can. No one can live and love in the same way we can. Do it well.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,

I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV