The Kindness Crown

Image result for teach children to be kind verseOne of my daughters teaches 4 year olds at a daycare center.  She says many of the children who come into her class have not yet learned basic courtesy;  they yell out when they want something, but in line, grab toys from other children.  In order to teach better social behavior, she uses something she calls “the kindness crown.”  Each time a child demonstrates kindness (see the list above) they get to wear the kindness crown for a while.  This positive reinforcement seems to work.  She says soon the kids are vying to be helpful and noticing when someone forgets to say “please” and “thank you.”

We can all learn to behave kindly, just like these youngsters.  In the book of Romans, Paul tells us to “outdo one another in showing honor.”  Anyone can be respectful, polite and kind.  It doesn’t require special talents or abilities;  it just takes a little forethought and self-control. These simple practices make all our relationships better, and in the end, we’ll win a crown also.  We’ll hear these words from Jesus: “well done, good and faithful servant.”

So as soon as you get up today, remember to put on the kindness crown!  Your kind behavior will influence others to be kind.

 

 

With Gentleness and Respect

 

Years ago, when our younger daughter Kate(now one of the Lutheran ladies) had just started high school, I received a phone call from the school office.  I was told that Kate would be suspended for three days because she was caught smoking.  The school secretary was somewhat apologetic, probably because Kate was a good student, and explained the punishment was mandatory.  She added “We want you to know that Kate was very respectful and polite when we questioned her.”

 Of course, I was unhappy and disappointed.  However, I know that teenagers push the boundaries and I trusted Kate would learn from her mistake and its’ consequences.  Surprisingly, the school called me back later the same day to say they had been wrong, and Kate would not be suspended.  Kate insisted that she was not smoking.  Because of her past history and her courteous behavior, the principal spoke with the coach who reported the smoking incident.  She had seen Kate with a group of students who were smoking, and assumed Kate was also.  She admitted she did not actually see Kate with a cigarette. 

 By this time you’re probably wondering, “and what is the point of this story?”  Well, here it is: Kate’s prior behavior and courtesy earned her a hearing.  The school took a second look at the evidence and realized Kate was telling the truth.  As Christians we can learn a lesson from this.  The Bible tells us:

    “… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”(1 Peter 3:15). 

  People will not listen to the good news of the gospel from a person they perceive as self righteous.  They will not listen to a person who buries them in Bible verses without giving them a chance to respond.  They will not listen when they are treated as if the views they hold are ignorant or stupid. 

 Many people today know practically nothing about Christianity beyond generalities that they accept as truth. They’ve heard a lot of New Age nonsense about what it means to be spiritual. They may have been told that all religions are the same, just different paths to God. To them the Bible is simply another book they haven’t read and they have no incentive to accept what it says. To give them “ears that can hear” we must first earn their trust.  We must listen to them respectfully, and then, when the opportunity presents, gently explain our own beliefs.  We can tell them about our personal experiences and the things we know to be true as witnesses, not theologians or even students of the Bible.  We can answer their questions without being condescending.  If our attitude and behavior is caring, kind, and humble it may lead some to take a closer look at what we have to say.  Then we can trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Ahead, Make My Day

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

Well, the yesterday didn’t start out very well…I overslept (yes, even retired people can do this).  My husband and I had to jump up and rush around so that he could get to his breakfast meeting with another Pastor, and I would be ready to drive our granddaughter to school.  I didn’t have time for breakfast and when Katelyn arrived, she was being a typical Monday morning teenager;  rolling her eyes, shrugging instead of answering my questions, looking generally  bored and unhappy.  When we started out the door, I wasn’t in a good mood.

Then something happened.  We got to her school and pulled up to the drop off area.  It was a gusty day and one of the male teachers on duty came right up to the passenger door.  He opened it saying, “It’s windy, so I want to make sure your door doesn’t get away from you and is closed tightly” and then “Hello Katelyn, have you got everything?”  He gave me a little wave.  I hadn’t said a word, but his kind and helpful manner changed the way I was feeling.  Instead of feeling irritable and grouchy because of my growling stomach, I felt happy and thankful to be noticed and treated helpfully and personally.  It turned my day and my attitude around.

So my question is, why don’t we all do this more often?  Why don’t we take the time to see the people around us as people and realize that our behavior may make or break their day?  It doesn’t really take much  effort to be courteous;  to say thank you;  to be patient when someone is struggling or new on the job; to address someone by their name if we know it or see it on a nametag; to offer help or hold a door or just say “have a blessed day.”

Did someone make your day today?  Thank them and thank God.

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

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Who exemplifies this verse to you?  It always makes me think of my mother.  She is in a nursing home now with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, but that gentle and quiet spirit still shines through.

How does the Bible describe gentleness?

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

Many people in mom’s situation are angry and frustrated.  They act out and make difficulties for those around them.  I know mom is frustrated, too, when she cannot find the words to tell us what she wants, or can’t remember the answer to a question we ask.  Yet, I have never seen her behave in an angry, rude or confrontational way.

“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

Mom has always been a humble person, never one to be demanding, or put herself first. She bears with her situation patiently.

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to be gentle and show perfect courtesy toward all people.”  Titus 3:1

Once again, gentleness seems to be associated with courtesy.  My mom’s behavior always taught me to be kind and courteous to others.  Courtesy doesn’t seem to be valued these days, but it can go a long way toward winning someone over.  Listen to this:

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you:  yet do this with gentleness and respect.”  1 Peter 3:15

Being gentle will further our witness to Christ.  Who has taught you the art of being gentle? We want to hear your story.