There is a saying that states: ‘If you can be anything in the world, be kind.’ Jennifer Dukes Lee
Kindness is not simply being nice. It takes courage and discipline. It is constant and unchanging. It is not a performance. It does not tire or boast. Kindness builds others and in turn, we are built up too.
When asking children what they thought it meant to ‘be kind’, they were quick to add that it meant you smiled a lot, got along with others, and being nice. It got me thinking about the sentiment of kindness and how that looks in our school. Are we being ‘nice’ to others or are we showing genuine kindness? Is there a difference and if so, what does it look like?
The Bible presents a very different, and compelling, portrait of kindness. People are considered nice when they are polite, but kindness is much deeper than niceness. Kindness goes out of its way. It seems to have a much deeper meaning.
Years ago, as the story goes, there was a pastor who went to preach in a remote village. Week after week he would open the church doors, but no one attended. Finally, he decided that if the villagers wouldn’t come to church, he would go to them. He started visiting all the families living within the village. Day after day he would knock on the doors, be welcomed by village hospitality and got to know the people whom he had come to serve. A question he asked each time was ‘Why don’t you join me at church on Sunday?’ There were a number of reasons for not attending but underneath it all, the pastor heard what was not said: heartache, fear, anxiety, loneliness and sadness. He pondered on how to bring these people together for he recognized what they needed. They could be there for each other, they could support each other and they could be reminded of their blessings and praise God for them. For in 1 John 3:18 it stated “… let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
He instructed each family member to make a cross made of wood and write their personal burden on it and to bring it to the town square the following Sunday. All the villagers, who were intrigued by this idea, came to the square and started placing their engraved crosses on the cobblestones. Once everyone had laid down their household cross, the pastor asked them to walk past the crosses and to choose one they would rather carry than their own. Eventually, as in stories like this, they found their way back to their own cross and picked it up. They came to realise that each person was fighting their own battle and that life was harder than it seemed for all the villagers.
While this story is only a fable, we recognize that life is difficult and at times we get thrown a curveball that has us reeling. How awesome it is to have people who are there for us, who will support and encourage us and demonstrate genuine kindness; a spirit underpinned by other-person-centredness, as we battle through our challenges.
In the well-known verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4, it says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
Take that kindness within you, and turn it toward the hurting, the broken, the friend down the road who is going through a tough time.
Jennifer Dukes Lee
Let us strive to be those people who show true kindness to others, to build others up, to walk alongside and encourage one another. How wonderful it would be to see our children being kind (not only nice) to others. Not only can we make a difference, we can be the difference!