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What Can I Do to Help You?

Mike Huddleston was traveling for a training. He had flown from Maryland to San Francisco and needed to get to a rental car agency. But because of a degenerative neuromuscular condition that weakens his muscles, he wouldn't be able to climb the stairs of the shuttle bus. Instead, the car agency sent someone to pick him up.

But as he was walking outside to meet them, he fell. And due to his condition, he couldn't get up. "I remember sitting there in the middle of the sidewalk in front of San Francisco Airport, thinking, 'What in the world am I going to do?'"

"[Then] out of nowhere I heard, 'What can I do to help?'" Huddleston turned his head to see a man in his late thirties standing behind him. "I said, 'Are you kidding?' He said, 'No. What can I do to help you, man?'"

Huddleston described what the man could do to help him get off the ground. Once he got him up, the man fetched Huddleston's baggage, which had rolled a few feet away when he fell. "He asked me if I was good and I said, 'I am because of you. So, thank you very much.' He just said, 'No problem,' and turned and walked away."

This encounter struck Huddleston. Not just because of the man's kindness, but also because of the way he offered that kindness. His unsung hero didn't step in and start helping when he saw Huddleston on the ground. He took a moment to ask Huddleston how he could help.

Different people who need assistance may need it in different ways. So, asking them how you can help them is amazingly helpful. It allows the individual who's in need of assistance to maintain a sense of self, to maybe feel a little less helpless, and maybe even a little less vulnerable.

It's been more than 20 years since Huddleston was helped up, but he continues to think about it to this day. "His willingness to help me — and the compassion he showed in a very challenging situation — for me is something I will never forget."

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the “My Unsung Hero” series on NPR, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

Possible Preaching Angle:

This story sheds new light on the question that Jesus often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matt. 20:32; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41). On reading the accounts, it might seem obvious what the person needed, but now we have better insight into why Jesus would ask this question. It is not only to allow the person to express faith, but to give them a “sense of self.”

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