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How much are you not doing for others? Meet the man people “rent to do nothing”

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Shoji Morimoto, a thirty-seven-year-old man from Japan, holds a postgraduate degree in physics from Osaka University and had a career in publishing before deciding he needed a change. 

While many people cycle through jobs looking for the right fit, Shoji began renting himself out “as a person who does nothing.”

Despite what he advertises, over three thousand people have since discovered it’s not what he delivers. 

Rather, most people hire him because they are bored or lonely and just need someone to listen to them. They need a friendly voice who won’t judge them and will offer support while they work through their fears. 

As one client described, “I had been slack about visiting the hospital, but I went because he came with me.” Others simply wanted “to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn’t have to talk but could if we wanted to.” 

While some of his experiences have been a bit more serious, such as the man who hired him because he wanted to confess a murder and the person who wanted company while recovering from an attempted suicide, most of his days are spent simply helping people not be alone. 

As such, the comfort and peace of mind he gives his clients is often worth immeasurably more than what they pay him.

Why more of us need to do nothing for others

While I doubt God’s will is for many of us to quit our day job to go hang out with strangers, the idea of making time to simply listen to people and be present with them could be one of the most powerful ways for us to embody the ministry of Christ in our culture. 

Do you recall what Job’s friends did after hearing about the calamities that had befallen him? 

Before casting false accusations about his character—and God’s—they acted in two specific ways we would do well to emulate: “They made an appointment together to show him sympathy and comfort him” and “they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:11, 13).

Even though it may still be a few more months before most of us could feel comfortable physically consoling others, all of us have the capacity to be more attentive and to try to listen more than we speak with the people God brings into our lives. 

That we can do so while also listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how to respond when the time comes makes us uniquely suited to help as well. God has a way of making otherwise ordinary and easily overlooked aspects of our interactions with others stand out, but it can be easy to brush them off and move on with our day unless we’ve made it a point to listen.

So the next time you’re scrolling through social media or walking around the office and something catches your attention, take a moment to ask God why and if there’s something he wants you to do about it. 

Hurting people are often experts at masking their pain, but they can’t hide it from the Lord, and it might just be that he wants to use you to help. 

Will you?   

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