Denzel Washington was out with friends recently when a homeless man moved in to ask for money. The actor's entourage ignored the man in the hope that he would go away. But Washington noticed him and was touched by his unhappy plight. He reached into his pocked and handed him a $100 bill. The man began to cry. The next thing you know, he grabbed a passerby and managed to splutter, "Will Smith just gave me a hundred bucks!"

I suppose homeless people don't get to see many movies, so let's agree to overlook his mistaken identification of his benefactor. More than that, I hope Washington didn't take offense or regret his generosity to the fellow. The point of kindness, after all, should never be to get credit but to help the recipient.

Unfortunately, however, there is a selfish streak in all of us that too often gets in the way of decent and good things we could do. It commonly shows itself in one's need to be noticed. To get patted on the back. To get credit. There is an old maxim which points to the obvious truth that a lot more gets done when nobody really cares who is getting credit for the achievement.

Athletics used to be touted for its value in teaching teamwork. One of the reasons I like college basketball and couldn't be paid to watch an NBA game is the obnoxious egotism of so many of the thug-millionaires who suit up. A dunk becomes the right to strut — while his defensive assignment breaks down the court with nobody to guard him! And you're right, Major League Baseball has its counterparts in several homerun-trot guys you can name and pro football has its cell-phone-in-the-sock or felt-tip pen showboats.

What about your workplace? Are you willing to put the larger good ahead of personal pride? Can you keep the company's larger mission in view? Help good ideas bubble up as "ours" rather than "mine"? Is it the whole family's happiness that concerns you? Or figuring out how to get your way?

The real stars among us are those occasional rare individuals who forget about themselves in order to serve others. "Lord, grant that I may seek to comfort rather than be comforted," prayed Mother Teresa, "to love rather than be loved." That idea wasn't original with her but comes directly from the example of Jesus.

Nothing is more satisfying than to give of oneself for others. Before getting too far into the week or even this day, it might be worthwhile to explore the option of carrying through by emptying yourself so God's presence can rush in.

A lot more gets done when nobody really cares who is getting credit.

The greatest among you must be a servant. (Matthew 23:11 NLT)