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To serve and to be kind

To explore and encourage kindness.

by The Revd Guy Donegan-Cross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore and encourage kindness.

Preparation and materials

  • Read through the story in advance.


  1. Ask, who can think of something kind? Perhaps someone has helped you or said some kind words? Encourage answers.
  2. Tell this story:

    This story is about a woman called Claire who lives in America, and who loves to go to her local department store. She doesn’t buy anything, but spends her time just looking around, and enjoying the live music they have on different floors, especially around Christmastime.

    One day Claire was up on the top floor of the store where they sell the most expensive clothes. Then the lift doors opened and out stepped a dirty-looking woman with a rubbish bag in her hand. Claire thought, ‘Somebody is going to come and usher her out. Security will be called. She doesn’t belong here.’ The cheapest dress on that floor was $1,000. Surely this was no place for such a scruffy woman.

    Claire watched as a very graceful shop assistant came over to the lady and said, ‘Excuse me, madam, can I help you?’ The scruffy lady said, ‘Yes, I want a dress.’ ‘What kind of dress?’ the assistant asked. ‘A party dress.’ ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place. We have the finest dresses in the world.’

    Claire couldn’t help but follow the action from a distance, just to see what would happen. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The saleswoman took the lady over to a rack of beautiful dresses and talked about which colours would suit her, what would go well with her eyes and hair. They talked for about 15 minutes and together they picked three dresses off the rack.

    Then the saleswoman said to the bag lady, ‘Would you follow me?’ They went into the dressing room to try on the dresses. Well, Claire went into the next-door dressing room to listen to what would happen next.

    After trying on all three dresses, taking another 30 minutes, the bag lady finally said, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided not to buy a dress today.’ The saleswoman said, ‘That’s quite all right, madam. Here’s my card. Should you come back to the store, please ask for me. I’d consider it a privilege if I could wait on you again.’

    Claire was amazed at how the bag lady had been treated; she was obviously not going to buy anything but took up almost an hour of the saleswoman’s time. After the lady had left, Claire walked over to ask the saleswoman why she had been so kind to her. As she came nearer she saw a button on the saleswoman’s lapel that said ‘WWJD’. She politely asked what these letters stood for. They stood for ‘What would Jesus do?’ Why had she treated the scruffy lady so kindly? The saleswoman said, ‘This is what we are here for: to serve and to be kind.’
  3. Explain that Jesus said a lot about how we should treat others. He said, ‘Always treat others as you want them to treat you.’ And he also said, ‘Whenever you do something for someone else, you do it for me.’ When the saleswoman showed kindness to the scruffy lady, Christians believe that she was also showing kindness to her God.

Time for reflection


How can you show kindness today?

Try to think of one simple thing that you could do to be a kinder person today.

Perhaps when you return to your classroom, you can write it down to remind you.

Then you can check later in the day to see if you’ve been kind.



Dear God,

Teach me to serve and be kind,

no matter who the person is,

no matter what they are like.

Because you are in everyone.



‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: October 2006   (Vol.8 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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