The definition is simple, “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.” It shouldn’t be that hard. But somehow, this one seems in short supply. It’s often missing in the grocery store, neighborhoods, on the road, at work, and even in churches. I just got a community-wide letter from the board president of our home-owners association asking for this one small thing in our community. She had to write these words to a bunch of adults, “Road rage, abusive language, disrespect, and discourteous conduct are examples of unacceptable behavior by residents recently reported by both employees and residents.” Sad. Real. Sad.
Kindness is the missing ingredient. Sometimes we call it civility. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care are other words associated with kindness. I called it simple. But Dr. Karyn Hall wrote in a Psychology Today article, “Being kind often requires courage and strength. Kindness is an interpersonal skill.” She also stated in the same article that researchers have found kindness to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.
At the church I started, our Lead Pastor, Cory Demmel, did a multi-part message series built around the topic of kindness. We even sell the shirts that he wore when he spoke, “Dude. Be Kind.” They’ve become popular around Southwest Florida. You can even order one for yourself or a friend. The proceeds go back into acts of kindness for our community.
How are you doing on the kindness scale? Are you more on the end of frequently impatient, grumpy, rude and disrespectful or are you closer to friendly, warm, gentle, generous and considerate? Just remember, how you measure yourself might be different than what your spouse, your kids or your co-workers say. Ask them if you are brave enough to seek the truth.
There are different ways to practice kindness. One way is simply to open your eyes and notice others who are in need of a kind word, a smile, opening a door, or helping carry a heavy load. Celebrating someone else’s success, giving honest compliments, sending a thank you, telling someone how grateful you are for them, paying for someone else’s coffee, refusing to gossip are all small ways to practice kindness. Kindness is even about telling the truth in a gentle way so it is helpful to the other person.
Do you treat yourself kindly? Do you value you, and take care of yourself? Do you speak and think kindly of yourself or are you harsh and hard on yourself? Starting with yourself puts you in a better position and attitude to treat someone else kindly.
Apostle Paul wrote much of the part of the Bible known as the New Testament. In a book to Jesus-followers who lived in the town of Galatia, he wrote these contrasting words, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear…hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division…But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:19-23 NLT). In other words, what is inside oozes out under pressure. A God-focused life displays radically different fruit than a self-centered life. God is always willing to come in and replace the junk with his best stuff if you just invite Him.
Kindness is so much about being aware and intentional. Ask God every day to build a speed bump between your brain and mouth. Ask God to start replacing self-centeredness with other-focused characteristics described as the “Fruit of the Spirit” above. Ask God daily for His help and His strength to respond to each person and situation with kindness. Ask Him to fill you with His best. He loves to answer those kind of prayers. Your world will start changing. Dude. Be kind.
QUESTION: In which setting is kindness easiest for you? Hardest for you? I’d love for you drop a comment below. Thanks!