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Ken Blanchart and Barbara Glands did some training with three thousand front-line workers at grocery stores and retail outlets across the country. They talked about the power of words and how what you say really does make a difference in people’s lives.

A month later, Barbara said she got a call from a guy named Johnny, who was at the training. Johnny told her early on, “I’m nineteen years old. I have Downs Syndrome. I work as a bagger at a grocery store.” He said, “I went back to the store and I didn’t know how to apply your statements. I liked your talk but I didn’t know what to do with it. I went home and talked with my dad and got an idea. My dad and I sat down at the computer and everyday we come up with a statement that is affirming of people, that’s encouraging. If I can’t find one in a little quote book, I’ll make it up. We’ll type it up six different times on the computer. I print off fifty sheets and cut all of them.”

So he has three hundred of these quotes. Then, every night, Johnny signs each one of them personally. Then the next day at the grocery store he puts this stack right by where he bags the groceries. He gets everyone’s groceries bagged up. Then on the last sack he puts the quote of the day, the encouraging word, in the sack. He makes sure he looks them in the eye and says, “I put something very special for you in this sack. I hope it will brighten your day.”

He’ll take them out to their car and help them load up. Johnny does this every single day.

Barbara said after about a month she got a phone call from the manager of that grocery store. He said, “Barbara I can’t believe it. Something really amazing is beginning to happen. I was walking around the store and I noticed while we had lots of checkers at the checkout line, there was no one there but maybe one or two people. The line where Johnny was doing bagging went all the way back to the frozen food section.”

He said, “I would tell them over the intercom that there were other lines you could move over to. We would walk down the line and tell people there were other lines open. People would just look at us and say, ‘No, we’ll wait because we want Johnny’s encouraging word for the day.’

One woman came by and grabbed the supervisor. She said, ‘I used to only come to the grocery store once a week or once every other week. Now I come by almost every day. I buy something just so I can get Johnny’s encouraging word for the day.’”

About a month later, the store manager called Barbara and said, “It’s changing our entire culture of our store. Even in the floral department when a flower was broken they used to just throw it away. Now they walk out into the lines, on their own initiative, they pin it onto elderly women or young girls. They brighten their day.”


There are a lot of people at that grocery store but the most important person is Johnny, the bagger. He’s speaking words of life and words of life can change a culture. If it can happen at a grocery store it can happen in a church.

This is a place where we should speak words of life to one another.