The Trouble With Nice Guy Joe

Nice old guy

I work with a guy in his seventies. By most standards, he’s old. He walks with a bit of a limp and has had several surgeries. He has suffered a few major tragedies, and he is still working for a living, but somehow he remains a really nice guy. Like, ridiculously nice.

The kind of nice that makes you think to yourself, “Come on now. Is it possible for anybody to be this nice?” Think about the nicest person you have ever met. Can you see their face? Yea, Joe would make that person seem like a terrorist by comparison. Trust me.

Most people know how to play the game. They smile to your face and then roll their eyes as you pass them in the hallway. I know because I’ve done it. But, you don’t ever get that sense from Joe. He is a sweet man who always ends a greeting with a vibrant “Have a great day!” And he doesn’t complain. I truly believe if you were to accidentally run Joe down with your car, he would roll over, pop his shoulder back into place, dust himself off and say something like,

Wow! What a nice car. And fast too! Well, have a great day, kiddo!

You always walk away from a conversation with him feeling better than you did before you crossed paths. He’s a remarkable man.

Now, I know he isn’t perfect. I’m sure if you sat across from his wife long enough she could tell some stories about Joe in moments of weakness. However, over the years he has proven himself a man of great character. He believes the best about people. He is encouraging, and even his work ethic is inspirational. The most deadpan cynic can’t help but smile around him. That’s the trouble with Joe.

He is like a human auditing system.

Without realizing it, he forces me to look at my life and behavior. I don’t know if Joe is religious. I’m not totally sure if he even believes in God, but he treats people better than a lot of Christians I know, self included. I like to think that I view life through a biblical lens, that I strive to live like Jesus. But if I’m honest with myself, I spend more time watching the clock at work than watching my attitude towards coworkers. I have probably spent more time tearing people down with gossip than building them up. I catch myself walking by people without even saying hello, or smiling for that matter. This is in total conflict with what I truly believe.

Reality Check:

  • Never assume Christians own the market on kindness.

Kindness is not a Christian concept; it was written on the heart of humanity. We are all created in the image of God, and though that image is distorted by sin, there are still glimmers of His goodness that shine from us all. Sometimes Christians point to kindness as a dividing line between the saint and the sinner. All this does is spit on common ground. Love, equality, and mutual respect are buzz words that seem to be on everyone’s lips. What if Christians used this shared interest as a way to point to its original source?

  • There is no excuse for me.

I have endured pain and trials throughout the years, but nothing like the devastation Joe has faced, even in the past few months. He recently lost his daughter in a plane crash. My heart broke just to hear him tell the story, and yet he refuses to let bitterness or anger overtake his love for life and other people.

Set that alongside the reality that Christ suffered and died on my behalf so that I could be saved and adopted as a son of God. What bad morning or annoying person can overshadow the beauty of such sacrifice? It’s all about perspective.

  • If I’m watching Joe, somebody is probably watching me.
I’ve talked to many people about Joe. I have sat around the breakfast table with coworkers, joking about how terribly nice he is. I told my wife about the great guy at work, and now his impact has made its way into a blog post. This begs the question, what are people saying about me when my name is mentioned over a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats?
Scary, right? When someone talks to their spouse about me, do they use words like awesome and genuine, or do jerk and moron make a regular appearance? These questions are a bit unsettling. I like being the sarcastic, funny guy, but I would also like to be known for encouragement and strong character.

I want to treat people like Nice Guy Joe. Better yet, like his Creator.

Do you have a Joe in your life that makes you want to be a better person?

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