Unkindness is something we can easily identify in others. But can I see it in my own life? To be unkind is to act in such a way to another soul that is unnecessarily dismissive or hurtful. I see this behavior, of course, as I raise four young men in my home. They point out the rudeness and unkindness of the others instantly and correctly quite frequently during the day. But of course when they are being unkind, they are are quick to explain and justify why they were unkind.
Because this is a blog, and I need not be careful of saying things improperly politically, I can think, just today, of how my blood boils when I hear about how our foreign staff are treated at U.S. Embassies around the world when they apply for work visas. I am venting right now, so forgive me, but in Kenya, in particular, I am shocked at how unkind and dismissive the officials are to Kenyans that wait weeks, prepare for months, and dream for years of coming to the USA on a work or tourist visa, and are then summarily dismissed for no apparent reason. Hearts are broken, tears shed (as today) but no compassion is shown or expressed. I experienced the same lack of courtesy at toll booths in New Jersey and cafes in NYC.
But over the past few years I have noticed how some workers and managers—like the folks at Starbucks and Chik-fil-A —are consistently kind and how those companies have grown and grown. It appears that most folks would rather be treated gently and courtesy, and prepared to patronize the companies and organizations that do.
Of course this has all caused me to be somewhat introspective about my church and the thousands of other churches that claim an association with Jesus. And although the church I attend has it challenges and problems, I am quite certain that it is precisely because of the kindness of its members and leaders that me and my family chose to join it. Consistently those people showered us with encouragement, kind words and smiles. They gave us the impression that they were glad we were there and that they cared about us.
But what about my camp for children? Do I and the members of our board and our staff exhibit such compassion? Is it obvious that we are glad every new staff or camper that arrives is welcome, cherished, important, appreciated and special to us?—-because, of course, they are! But do we flood them with kindness in such a way that there is never any question of how much we approve of them?
And finally I thought of my own home. I would “brag” that most of the time I am right about the things I tell the boys they should not be doing. I am on target almost always about how they could do more, be better behaved, be more “Christ-liked”, etc. But am I kind? Or better yet, am I kinder than I need to be?!
My boys, and the campers and staff, will soon forget my lectures, my tirades, my “disappointments” with them. But they will probably hold on to either how kind I was, or talked about it——-but only talked about it. When I have the opportunity to shine as one who is abandoned to Christ and therefor able to bear the fruit of kindness in even the most stressful moments I am setting an example and legacy that these sons of mine—and staff—might never forget. May it be so this summer.
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