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“I can’t believe it! What kind of person would steal pencils from a church?! I saw that little old lady going around and taking the pencils from the backs of the pews and putting them in her purse.”

The pastor smiled. “She isn’t stealing them. She noticed that the pencils had gotten dull and took it upon herself to take care of that need. She gathers the dull ones and takes them home to sharpen them.”

At this part of the story, I imagine Emily Litella (classic SNL) sheepishly saying, “Well, that’s quite different. Nevermind.” LOL!

I remember hearing this simple story years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I want to be that kind of person.

See a need, fill a need.

This lady saw the dull pencils and decided, “I can help.”

If you look around you, you’ll see need everywhere. We can’t personally solve all that is wrong or broken in this world. BUT there are plenty of things that we can do to make a difference.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

When you get up in the morning, pray that God would show you how you can be a blessing to someone that day or what need you can fill.

As you go about your day, keep your eyes open for needs. Watch for your chance to serve others.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Sometimes the smallest thing can make a huge difference to someone that’s having a rough day.

  • Hold open a door for someone.
  • Let someone go in front of you in the checkout line.
  • Give a compliment.
  • Wash the dishes even if it isn’t your turn.

Or maybe the need is something that will take a little more investment for you…

  • Make a meal for a frazzled mom.
  • Offer childcare while she runs an errand.
  • Make time to sit and listen to a friend.

Or maybe the “need” is more of a sacrifice for you…

  • Purchase a gift card or an item for someone or an organization.
  • Volunteer your time to do a work project.

The important thing is to be open, watchful and prayerful about what to do.

NOTE: It is also important to not over extend yourself but that’s another a topic for another day and another blog post!

What else can we learn from the pencil lady?

She didn’t make a fuss about it. Didn’t stand up in front of the congregation and make an announcement that she was now the official pencil sharpener. She quietly took care of the need. It was between her and her God.

But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4 NLT

You shouldn’t fill needs to feed your ego. This is not about “Look at me and what I’ve done.” If you go at it with that attitude, you’re doing it for yourself and not for others. And really, isn’t that the best part? To know that you’ve helped someone else.

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. Matthew 7:12a

So, what do YOU do when you see a dull pencil? What’s your response?

 “Oh #*!&@! I’m not filling out their stupid form if they can’t even provide a working pencil!”

“Ugh. Another dull pencil! Shouldn’t someone be taking care of this?”

“Someday I should do something about that.”

“How can I help?”

Dear God,

Open our eyes to ways we can bless others and fill needs. Guide us to the people and situations that you have picked out for us to be involved with. Give us wisdom to know if a task is ours to fill or if it’s meant for someone else. Thank you for the ways that others have blessed us. We love the way you weave it all together and give us others to walk through life with.

In Jesus name,


Mandy Hood

At The Connection, we have lots of dull pencils. Let us know if you’d like to sharpen some. Shoot us an email or text if you have questions.

  • Greeting at events
  • Food prep or serving
  • Photography
  • Blogging
  • Cleaning
  • Being a listening ear for visitors during open hours
  • Mentor in our fall session of Together

Mandy Hood is a board member and executive director of The Connection. She loves to facilitate women connecting with each other and helping them grow in their faith.

Mandy and her husband have been married for 41 years and have 2 adult children, 2 in-law children and 3 grandchildren. Every year, they look forward to GramCamp – three days of spoiling and fun.

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