A Kick in the Pants and Kindness….

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks. It’s hard–it sure does make my brain hurt sometimes. 🙂

The Lord has been challenging me (and blessing me) on what it means to be a “minister’s wife” and my role in the ministry of our church, in regards to being the youth minister’s wife. Paul and I have been married 6 1/2 years and he’s been in ministry the entire time we’ve been married. You would think, after 6 1/2 years, God wouldn’t have to “kick me in the pants” for me to rely on Him. You would think, after 6 1/2 years, I wouldn’t have to wait to be “kicked in the pants” before I get my priorities straight. And yet, He does and I do. And it will continue, I’m sure.

I don’t think He’s done. I think I hope I pray I will be forever changing and evolving. If I ever come to a point where I think God is “done with me” I’ve hit complacency, which is a terrible place to be.

“I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it’s so directly contrary to the teaching of Christ.”–Jimmy Carter

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Never be complacent with your relationship with Christ and with others. Relationships are not meant to be stagnant.

I’m thinking, learning, and studying what it means to be K-I-N-D.

Being kind is a way of living that keeps giving long after the kind thoughts, words, and actions have taken place.

  • Kindness is a force (without force) and goes way beyond manners to the very heart and soul how how people respect you.
  • Being kind is an essential way to make life meaningful.
  • Being kind allows you to communicate better with other people (more than just talking) and to be more compassionate.
  • Kindness is a choice. Everyone has the ability to be kind; you just have to find it in yourself and choice it.
  • Kindness is about caring genuinely for others around you, wanting the best for them, and recognizing in them the same wants, needs, aspirations, and even fears that you have, too.
  • Kindness is warm, patient, trusting, loyal, and grateful.

Kindness is NOT about just being “polite” or being “superficial in etiquette.”

  • Simply being nice to other people because you believe that this will manipulate them into giving you what you want in life, or as a means of controlling them, is not kindness.
  • Nor is kindness about pretending to care for someone all the while repressing anger or contempt
  • Hiding our rage or frustration behind false pleasantries is not kindness.
  • Lastly, being a “people pleaser” is not kindness. It is simply behavior designed to give in and not rock the boat because you’re afraid of what might happen if you’re not compliant.

The greatest gift of kindness to another person is to be “in the moment,” in their presence, to be listening with care, and to be genuinely attentive to them.

Be a good listener. Often said, the act of listening is far easier said than done. You can easily “hear” yet never “listen”–there is a distinct difference. Learn what it is….

In our fast-paced world, where rushing and being busy are seen as virtues; where cutting someone off because you’re too busy, or you need to get somewhere in a hurry, is the norm. Making being busy into a habit is no excuse for unkindness, however. When talking to someone, learn to listen. And, please, please, please do not answer your phone or respond to a text (unless it is an emergency) while you are sitting with someone else. It is a pet peeve of mine, and it is really discouraging.

Schedule your day differently, so you are not known as the person who always rushes off. Being present means being available; you can only do this if you’re not rushing or squeezing in people and activities.

Be happy, joyful, and grateful (and share those emotions with others). These emotions are the CENTER of kindness. They allow us to see the good in other people, as well as ourselves. They also allow us to go through challenges, despair, and even heartache, continuously reminding us of our sense of faith in humanity.

And my personal favorite:
Turn off the technology as a way of sole communication. Impersonal and hurried technical communications like text and email have their place in life but not as your only means of communicating. Please, please, please do not allow texting to become your main source of communication. It is very frustrating (and often very lonely) if you never hear your friend’s voice b/c you only hear the “chirp” of the phone, indicating you have a message. Take time to connect with people face-to-face, or even in an uninterrupted phone call. Send a letter instead of an email and surprise someone with kindness as you put pen to paper…PEN TO PAPER!!! Like a real letter—-who would’ve THUNK it?!! (My mother is the “queen of cards” and I certainly took after her, and I absolutely LOVE writing people notes in the mail. I try to send out at least 3-4 cards a week to different people–not to “toot my own horn” but because I believe the Lord has blessed me with a sensitive heart and a deep feeling of care towards other people).

Think about the truly kind people in your life and how they make YOU feel. You feel a certain way (even after they are gone) because kindness lingers, warming you even when the hardest challenges face you. When other people find a way to love you for who you are, it’s impossible to forget such trust and confirmation of worthiness, and their kindness lives on forever.

Leo Babauta (creator of Zen Habits) says kindness is a habit and is one that everyone can cultivate. He suggests focusing on kindness every day for a month. At the end of this directed focus, you’ll be aware of profound changes in your life. You’ll feel better about yourself as a person, and you’ll find that people react to you differently, including treating you better. Ask for nothing in return. The greatest kindness expects nothing, comes with no strings attached, and places no conditions on anything done or said.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. Before committing an action that might impact another person negatively, ask yourself a simple question: “Is this kind?”. I know girls that struggle with this A LOT because as soon as they say something, their reply is, “Oh, I’m just kidding!” (Well, if you are “just kidding” don’t say it! “Kidding around” or “joking with someone” CERTAINLY can be misconstrued as a put-down, an insult, a lie, or a very hurtful comment that destroys self-esteem. All of these things open up a whole new can of worms, in regards to how I handle that as a leader in our church). If you cannot answer the question, “Is this kind?,” with an affirmative YES, then you need to rethink what you are about to say.

Be polite. Although being polite is not an indication of kindness in itself, genuine politeness demonstrates your respect for those you’re interacting with.

But, most of all…..

BE KIND because God has suggested, NO, commanded us to be kind. In the Bible there are 91 Bible verses about being kind…Here are a few:

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Proverbs 11:17 “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”

Colossians 3:12 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”

Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I absolutely L-O-V-E the books: Same Kind of Different As Me and What Difference Does it Make?, both by Denver More and Ron Hall. If you have not read them, READ THEM–they will rock your world….

Here’s what Denver had to say about kindness….

“See, deliverin’ kindness ain’t the pastor’s job. That’s our job…..See, we don’t need to be tryin’ to drag (the homeless), or any kinda needy people, to “programs,” to “services.” What people need is people. And needy people don’t need no perfect people neither….If you is waitin to clean up your own life before you get out and help somebody else, you may as well take off your shoes and crawl back in bed…Jesus don’t need no help from no perfect saints. If He did, He wouldn’t a’gone up yonder and left us down here in charge.” -Denver Moore

Another quote I found the other day that I really love is….

“Before you speak to me about your relationship with Jesus Christ, show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children.”

Kindness, if portrayed well and with a genuine heart, rarely requires words.
(I will say and confess that not all of these ideas are my own. But, overall, the conviction is mine and mine alone).