Who’s Behind That Bucket?


You’ve seen them, heard them and may potentially be one of them… a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. I’ve made a deal with myself this Christmas that every red bucket with a volunteer ringing, I will give whatever I have in my coin purse.

C’mon, don’t judge.

If you shopped as much as me, you would understand that this is frequent and generous – and if I am still empty from my last gift, I give a $1 or $5 – especially if there are kids ringing or they are subject to the harsh, cold winter elements.  Sure, I could tell you about the great and amazing things that the Salvation Army does with those donations, but you can read that online. What I want to do is to give you a perspective.

Who is that standing behind that bell, apron, bucket or Santa hat? For some reason I’m paying attention this year. I usually would drop money in, a few times a season, just to give to a good cause, but I keep thinking of 1997; 10 years ago. Back then, I worked for a staffing service. One of our laborers was injured on the job so under workman’s comp we had to give him some “light duty” work until he was cleared by his doctor to return to full duty. In just a few weeks, he was caught up on filing, cleaning, organizing and purging so being the season of bell ringers, we enlisted him to ring bells – paid! He didn’t want to, but if he refused, he was in essence refusing work ,and therefore, voluntarily terminating his employment. So reluctantly he set out daily for his eight hour work day of bell ringing. I really felt bad for the guy, I really did, but he was getting paid, and he was performing work, that was within his physical capability, so it was a win-win, right?

As a result of this, I am now much more sincere, appreciative and outspokenly thankful for those who elect to ring. I know most of bell ringers are not standing there out of obligation, but what if one is? Let alone eight hours of obligation? Could how we treat those people behind the pail be a ministry in and of itself? Maybe my poor laborer would have been more willing to set out for a day of being generous and want to serve in this capacity if people were kind and thankful. Unfortunately, that is not always true.

I have witnessed first-hand what it is like behind that little red kettle. Some people pretend you don’t exist. I always wondered, “How can you ignore that incessant ring?” I have even observed people literally going way out of their way to avoid the door that the bell ringers are in – using the Enter door as the Exit door as if to avoid that Grinch-like encounter. As believers, followers of Christ, let’s rally to thank everyone who is giving their time to serve. Why not? Shouldn’t we thank people for going above and beyond and for showing their support of such a great organization and worthy cause?

It’s so neat, now that I have decided to lean in and thank each volunteer for serving and expressing that gratitude by putting money into the pail, as almost to give a gratuity for their gesture, and showing genuine interest in the fact that a human being is bringing life to that lonely red pail. If any of them are there by force, maybe we can turn their hearts to feeling appreciated and cared for; not condemned, obligated or forced.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the responses that I have received from the bell ringers this year; it’s positive, refreshing and in a way, loving. It has given me a wonderful Christmas season attitude. I petition you to try it. See for yourself what a blessing it is to be nice, go above and beyond and express gratitude.

Tag! You’re it!

1 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


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I Will Obey… NOT!


Today’s Devotion: Exodus 24. How many times have you said this? “God, I will obey you.” Only to prove yourself a liar? I have and there is nothing more humiliating then putting your best foot forward and falling flat on your face.

Have you ever stood in Sunday service and looked at the words you are singing? Let’s take this lyric for example…

Wherever you want me to go. I will go
Whatever you need me to do. I will do
Whatever you like me to say. I will say
Just speak the word lord I’ll obey

Whether it’s on a mountain high or in the valley low just have your way whatever you say lord I’ll obey

Wherever you want me to preach. I’ll preach whenever you need me to sing I’ll sing whenever you want me to pray I’ll pray

 Whether it’s in a crowed room or some place where there’s just a few. Whatever you say lord have your way and I’ll obey

 I will obey you lord
I will obey you lord
Just have your way
Whatever you say I’ll obey

Really? How are we any different than the Israelites when they were given God’s laws? Verse 7 says, “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.’”

Let’s not kid ourselves. We aren’t capable of being obedient to God. We can be consciously aware of what is right and what is wrong, but to think we can live a life of obedience is only to fall short of the glory of God  (Romans 3:23) over and over again.

So rather than saying we will obey, let’s just admit that we can’t and pray that God would take our lives, do with it as He wills, and praise Him for who He is and what He has done. This not only takes the pressure off of us, but it puts all the credit onto Him where it belongs.