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Kind Deeds Are Never Lost

with Rick Rigsby | June 6, 2008

A father’s impression on his children lasts a lifetime. Today on the broadcast, Texas A&M chaplain Rick Rigsby, author of the book Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, tells Dennis Rainey about his father, Roger Marion Rigsby, and the lesson of kindness he learned from him. Today, Rick tells a story that illustrates the kind and generous man his father was.

A father’s impression on his children lasts a lifetime. Today on the broadcast, Texas A&M chaplain Rick Rigsby, author of the book Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, tells Dennis Rainey about his father, Roger Marion Rigsby, and the lesson of kindness he learned from him. Today, Rick tells a story that illustrates the kind and generous man his father was.

Kind Deeds Are Never Lost

With Rick Rigsby
|
June 06, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Rick:  There are people that are in your life that you encounter every single day who don't have the means to bless you or your wife; who don't have the ability to help you; who can't do a thing for you.  Little children, for example, help those folks first.  That's what Jesus was all about.  You help people that can't help you.  You look for people that you can help.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 6th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We will hear today some of the common sense, practical wisdom that Dr. Rick Rigsby learned from his father when he was growing up.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  You know, there's a lot that all of us can learn from a guy who has earned his Ph.D., but as we're hearing on today's program, there's a lot a guy with a Ph.D. can learn from a father who was a third-grade dropout, if he just has ears to hear.  Rick Rigsby is our guest on FamilyLife Today.  He is a professor at Texas A&M University, the founder of Rick Rigsby Ministries, speaks at Promise Keepers events across the country.  In fact, you're going to be speaking at at least one even this summer that Promise Keepers is hosting.

Rick is married, he is the father of four children, and he is the chaplain for the Texas A&M Aggies.

Dennis: Rick, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Rick: Thank you so much, Dennis, what an honor to be here.

Dennis: Rick, as you write about in your book, you talk about your father having numerous qualities, and I don't think we've ever done a broadcast on one of the greatest qualities your dad had.  You spoke of your dad being a kind man.  Now, you had a statement that you attributed to him.  Do you remember what that statement was?

Rick: I sure do, Dennis – kind deeds are never lost.  I listened to that for the first 18 years of my life until I went to college.  That was his grace every night.  I've looked for it in the Bible, can't find it.  I've asked people, I've asked friends, I said, "Where did this come from?" I still can't find it.  In doing research for my dad's book, I asked some of his surviving siblings – was my dad kind when he was a child?  They said, "Your father, Roger Rigsby, was the kindest person that we had ever met."

Dennis: Yeah, in fact, you know what?  I want to read something that his brother said about him, because I found that – I thought, "You know what?  It's really interesting to have your brother say this about you later on as an adult."  And the reason I thought this was so good is because you think about a family of seven kids, which your dad grew up in.

Rick: Yes.

Dennis: All the sibling rivalry, competition, you know it had to be there.  I mean, he grew up in a real family, but here is his youngest brother, Edward, saying this about him, as a man.  He said, "Roger always went out of his way to be kindest among us.  Even as children, there seemed to be a difference about him – a kindness rare among all the other boys and girls.  As a man, he was the symbol of kindness.  He always placed family and friends before himself.  I remember fondly," he writes, "that during the war" – that's World War II – "Roger would send his entire Army pay check home and live off the money he earned shining shoes.  His family was more important than anything else on earth.  My brother was among the kindest I ever knew.  His life impacts and influences me to this very day."

Rick: Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.  My uncle shared that story with me and, in no way, does it minimize the fact that my grandmother and grandfather didn't provide – they did provide.  But my father was just a kind man, and my uncle will tell me to this day, he's still alive in Houston, Texas – he would tell me to this day, "I don't know what it was, Ricky, about your father.  I don't know what it was, I don't know what motivated him." 

But, do you know, Dennis, I never heard my father say one bad thing – now, listen to this – I never heard my father say one bad thing about another person in the 40-plus years that I knew my father – not one.  I never heard my father say one bad thing about another person.  Every single night at dinner, grace time, "Kind deeds are never lost."  And he would preach to us, "Boys, be kind.  Be kind to everyone, especially be kind to people that don't have the power to help you."

Dennis: You saw your dad over and over and over again demonstrate kindness.

Rick: Here is a man, Dennis, that in the '30s and '40s had to get off of a sidewalk in Texas, because of the color of his skin, to allow someone else to pass by.  In the '60s, when his sons come along, that same man says, "Son, don't judge a person based on the color of their skin."  We're saying, "Wait a second, Daddy, you told us stories about how you had to get off the sidewalk."  You know what he does?  He looks in our eyes, and he says, "Son, your Daddy has learned that an anchor is an awful heavy weight to carry around your neck for the rest of your life.  You win that person with kindness." 

As a television reporter, I had friends who were in the Ku Klux Klan.  I'm an African-American, if you hadn't noticed.  I come from a predominantly black family.  I had friends who were in the Ku Klux Klan.  Some of my best friends are rednecks.  I tell them I'm a black neck redneck myself.

You can kill people with kindness.  You can literally win people over with kindness, Dennis.

Dennis: You know, one of my favorite verses here on the broadcast is Ephesians 4:32.  And usually we emphasize the last half of this verse, but on this broadcast, we're emphasizing the first half – "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God, in Christ, has also forgiven you."  We usually emphasize forgiveness, but the command to be kind to one another, really is a Christ-like quality.  And when someone demonstrates kindness, sit enhances their life.

Rick: That's exactly right.  Let me ask you a question.  What is it that impacts you?  Is it money?  Is it fame?  Is it status?  What impacts you?  I'm around a lot of professional athletes because of what I do for a living, because I am privileged to be the chaplain.  I am not impacted by a guy that's six-four, that's 270, that kind do the 40 in five.  I'm scared of him, but I'm not impacted by him.

But if that same guy will open the door for someone; if that same guy will say "thank you"; if that same person will show an act of kindness, I am floored, flattered, blown away because of a simple act of kindness.  I want to tell you something – if you were kind just 10 percent more of the time, it will increase your sphere of influence.

John Maxwell says all leadership is is influence; your ability to influence people within the sphere of your periphery.

Bob: How would you coach someone in this area of showing kindness?  Maybe they didn't see it modeled; they didn't have a dad like you had, and so they know they're supposed to be kind, but they just don't know exactly what that ought to look like.

I know one of the principles that you share with folks is that you need to say thank you more than you say I.

Rick: Just get in the habit of thinking of others before yourself.  If you can say "thank you" 20 times, it's going to enhance the quality of somebody else's life, which means you're going to get the bigger blessing.

Dennis: You know, I'll tell you, I want to give you a confession.  I look back over my e-mails that I send to my associates from time to time, and I want to check before I send them, if the word "please" is in there, or if I've thanked them for what they've done for me.

Rick: Isn't that interesting?

Dennis: And it is interesting, and I reflect back, you know, my e-mails don't always have those words, and so I've wondered from time to time – I wonder if I'm as kind as I should be by beginning my request with "Would you please mind going and making a copy of this for me?"

Rick: Sure, sure.

Dennis: Or "Thank you for taking care of that.  Here is something else that I need you to do right now.  Would you mind doing that as well?"  And make those requests in ways that are especially kind.

Number two, say either "Yes, please," or "No, thank you."  We've already commented on that.  Number three, allow others to enter buildings before you.

Rick: That's exactly right.  Listen to this, Dennis – go to church this Sunday, those of you listening, try this yourself.  Go to church and look at how many men are walking ahead of their wives.  Now, you might say to me, "Rick, that's no big deal," but are we not to be the protector and the provider, the one who honors?  Are we not to establish a standard for everyone else to see? 

When you walk ahead, when you enter buildings first, it's basically saying, "Me, myself, and I."  Those are the parameters of my world that I am going to preserve.

Dennis: This number four is close to this – open doors for others.

Rick: Everyone – I don't care, I don't care how staunch of a women's libber you are, I open the door for everyone.  I open the door for young people, fat people.  I open the door for old people, for skinny people.  You know why, Dennis?  The greatest medicine to the heart is to be able to reach down and help somebody else.  One day you're going to need somebody to open a door for you.

Dennis: Here is another one I want you to comment on, because I like this.  You know, you don't think about this being an act of kindness, but it really is – purposefully smile at another person.

Rick: My dad was so practical.  You know the thing I love about my dad, and this is what you were getting at earlier – my dad wasn't a scholar, my dad didn't know how to pontificate with any ecclesiastical excellence nor did he have a desire to.  His Christianity was practical.  I have watched my smile melt away ignorance and intolerance.  Try it.

Dennis: Yeah.  I was in Wal-Mart the other day, and I was getting a battery for my watch, and the watch didn't cost that much.  It was one of the $25 Timex watches, and they couldn't get it put back together, and they call the assistant manager of the department over.  It took them over 40 minutes to put my watch back together.  And they finally said, you know, "Sir, you're just going to have to buy a new watch."  And they handed it back to me, and I took it, and I just kind of changed the angle of which we were trying to put the pin back in there, and it popped in place.

And I looked at the young lady who was at the counter, and she said, "Are you angry with me?"  And I burst out in a big grin, I said, "No, I just fixed it.  It just worked."  And I thought, as I walked away from there, I thought, "I wonder how many times my countenance carries with it either scorn or an intensity that doesn't communicate kindness?"  I really hadn't intended to use that story here to illustrate what you're talking about, but I think as we work with people just a smile, a pleasant nod, and a twinkle in the eye.

Rick: That's a great point.  You know, non-discursive communication is so powerful, that's the non-verbal dimension and, Dennis, you'll hear people every day say, "I'm not a minister," or "I don't know how to preach."  Francis of Assisi said it best – "Always be prepared to preach a sermon and, when necessary, use words."

Well, think about your day for a moment.  You're in hotels, you're passing people that care for the hotel, whether they be maids or valets.  Do you realize how much value you've given someone if you make eye contact with them – not patronize them, but make eye contact with them and smile.  It never ceases to amaze me how the value of another human being is intensified and increased simply by someone else smiling.

Dennis: No doubt about it.  This last one, I don't know what you mean by this one.  Help those who lack the power to reward you.

Rick: That's my favorite of all of them.  That's the essence of Roger Rigsby.  There are people that are in your life that you encounter every single day who don't have the means to bless you or your wife; who don't have the ability to help you; who can't do a thing for you.  Little children, for example – help those folks first.  That's what Jesus was all about.

You see, we live in a society that barters.  We live in a society where the bottom line is to gain leverage, so guess what we do?  Folks come into our church, they have a lot of means, we go right to them.  They come to our table, they want us to sign their books, we go right to them, and we look by the elevator operator, the popcorn vendor, we look right by the third-grader because he's just a pimple-faced kid.  Well, guess what?  Everybody has value.

Dennis, do you want to know what my father was all about?  My father said, "Son, don't you dare turn up your nose at anyone.  Everyone has value, everyone."  You help people that can't help you, and, I'll tell you, the best advice I got when I graduated with my Ph.D. was this – "Hey, son."  "Yes, Daddy."  "I really don't know what that degree stands for.  I'm really proud of your work, but don't hide behind that degree.  You look for people that you can help."

Can I tell you a great story?

Dennis: Yeah.

Rick: I'm almost embarrassed to say this.  Most people probably would not say it, but at some point during my tenure as the life skills coordinator for the football team, I started to get a little arrogant attitude thinking that maybe my position is nothing more than window dressing.

Dennis: Now, you're talking about providing some training and character development for the football team at Texas A&M.

Rick: That's exactly right.  I was very privileged to work – to be hired by Coach R.C. Slocum, a legendary football coach and to work in that capacity for a number of years.  And so at some point, late '90s, I'm thinking, "Maybe I'm just window dressing, maybe I'm just an ornament."  And my father and mother were visiting Texas from San Francisco, and I just happened to start complaining about what I just shared with you.

My father taught himself how to read, so he's looking at the media guide.  After about 15 minutes of my complaining, my father, who would say very few words, and he would just look for moments, opportunities, almost like Winston Churchill – after I'd complained for about 15 minutes my father said, "Son, you know, I've read your media guide.  I notice that you all have over 100 football players.  A lot of them are on scholarship.  Son, it sounds to me like you're focusing on the wrong thing.  Maybe your focus needs to be helping those people."

I wonder, Dennis, what would happen in the course of our day, if we dared take the focus off of ourselves just a little bit and put it on people that we could help?"

Dennis: I was just – hearing your story there reminds me – I was in the audience one time listening to Coach Kay speak.

Rick: Get on the right bus.

Dennis: The legendary coach from Duke who has built a dynasty over there, and I just think he's a phenomenal coach, but he told a story of being raised by a single-parent mom who worked in hotels.  She cleaned the rooms in hotels after guests checked out.  And he told a story of how his mom made a living and helped put him through college that way and just the lessons she taught him as a young man, growing up, and he said, "Anytime I check into a hotel, the people that I am kindest to are those who help us, those who are at the front desk, those who perhaps are part of the maintenance engineers of the building, those who keep the equipment going, and the ladies who clean the rooms."  He said, "I am always kind of those ladies, because my mom was one of them."

Rick: Yes, sir.

Dennis: And that story made such an impact on me that I was just convicted that I had walked by those people, like you're talking about.

Rick: Yes, yes, sir.

Dennis: And instead of making eye contact with them and thanking them for their work, thanking them for the great job they were doing, especially if I stayed multiple nights in one of those hotels and perhaps even leaving a tip, you know, to say thank you for a job well done.  There are multiple ways that we can express that kindness that you're talking about.

Rick: That's exactly right.  You know, I look for people, go out of my way to greet people, because I grew up with a mom and dad who said, "Everybody has value."  My father taught me at a young age, and I never forgot this – that what a person does for a living does not define who they are.  My dad was a cook who made $500 a month, but he was a human being.  I've got to tell you this story.

We were at a PTA meeting back in the 1960s.  They were changing the bus schedule, and a well-intentioned person, I'm sure this person didn't have any hate in them, but a well-intentioned person said, "Here is the new bus schedule.  The bus will arrive at such-and-such street at a certain time.  Now, for the lower-class folks, the bus will arrive in your neighborhood at such-and-such time."  My father stood up and said, "My name is Roger Rigsby.  I live at 1141 Louisiana Street, Vallejo, California, 94590.  I have two boys in this particular school district.  I just want to make it clear that we may be lower income, but we're not lower class." 

He sat down, didn't make an issue of it but made a profound statement.  I can't turn up my nose at anyone.  What drunkard starts off that way in third grade?  Who wants to be a prostitute?  Who wants to swindle the government?  When Kenneth Lay died, I didn't celebrate.  I wondered, had anybody talked to him?  Was anybody a friend to him?  You know, I think we need to spend less time judging folks and more time loving folks.

Dennis: I think that's a good word.

Bob: Yeah, this really all goes back to the kind of person you are, what your character is, what has been taught to you since you were a child, and that's what your dad did.

Rick: Yes, sir.

Bob: He trained you with a core character that has set a path for your life and, of course, your relationship with Christ is what gives that character a foundation.  You write about all of this in the book that you've written called "Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout," and I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy of this book, practical wisdom for everyday living from a dad who passed it on to his son, and it changed the direction of your life.

We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Our listeners can go to our website at FamilyLife.com to request a copy of this book.  When you get to the home page on the right side of the screen where you see a box that says, "Today's Broadcast," click the button that says "Learn More," and that will take you to the area of the site where you can find out more about Rick's book.  Again, it's called "Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout."  Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. 

You can also request a copy of this book by calling us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-368-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and when you get in touch with us just let us know that you'd like a copy of Rick's book, "Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout," and we'll make arrangements to have copies sent out to you.

Let me also encourage you – when you get in touch with us, would you consider making a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today?  We are listener-supported, and its donations that we receive from folks like you that make this daily radio program possible in this city and in other cities all across the country.  So we really do depend on your generosity and your kindness when you do make a donation in order for this ministry to continue.

And this month, we'd like to say thank you for your financial support by sending you a CD that features a great message from our friend, Stu Weber.  Stu is an Army Ranger, a former Green Beret; served in Vietnam.  He now is the pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church in suburban Portland, Oregon.  But this message is a classic message from Stu about what it means to be a man.  It's a message we've called "Applied Masculinity," and we'd like to send it to you this month when you make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We think it will help give you a perspective and a vision on what godly manhood needs to look like.

If you make your donation online, and you'd like to receive the CD, you need to type the word "Stu" in the keycode box on the donation form.  That's s-t-u.  If you're making your donation over the phone, just ask for the CD from Stu Weber or the CD on manhood and, again, we're happy to send it out to you when you make a donation this month.  We appreciate your partnership with us and your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Now, I know you have got a final assignment, Dennis, for Dr. Rigsby.

Dennis: I'm going to ask you to do something.

Rick: Sure.

Dennis: I don't know if you've ever done this before.

Rick: Uh-oh.

Dennis: This may be an interesting assignment.  Here what I'd like for you to do in your mind's eye, and then verbalize.  I'm going to seat your father across from you right now.  I'm going to leave the studio, and it's just you and your dad here in this studio, and you've written this book about your dad – "Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout."  It's about the timeless wisdom your daddy passed onto you.  But I'm going to give you one last opportunity to speak in the first person to your father and give him a verbal tribute for what he taught you.  Do you think you could do that?

Rick: I'll give it my best.  Hey, Daddy, it's been 10 years since I've seen you, and I just have to tell you how proud I am of you.  I never had a chance, Daddy, to ask you how your life was going; how you were dealing with troubles; how you were dealing with struggles.  I never talked to you from your perspective of what worried you.  You were always there for me, especially when I needed you the most, and I want you to know something, Daddy, your life was not wasted.  You never made the headlines, you never were on a radio show, you never were on a television show, you never were the subject of a feature, but your life impacted, and that legacy lives today because of your simple and profound way that you chose to live your spiritually out practically, simply, unwittingly, every single day.  What I want to say to you is thank you, Daddy.  Thank you so much for modeling how to love a wife.  Thank you so much for modeling how to love children.  For me, personally, thank you so much for modeling how to be a rock in a storm.  Thank you for those hymns of the faith that you would sing.  Thank you for those Scriptures that you would share with me on the way to Little League practice.  I never thought, in a million years, how you were preparing me to be a man.  And now it is with great pleasure that I take the essence of your life and model it before your grandchildren.  Daddy, we're going to be fine, we're going to stand, and it's because of the foundation that you laid.  Thank you, Daddy, thank you for everything.

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.

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