Posted tagged ‘kindness’

Be Kind or Be Kinda’ Kind

September 25, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   September 25, 2018

                            

At our middle school, as any other middle school, there has been a lot of information and discussion about bullying- what it is and what to do if you are the person who is being bullied? 

This school year there has been an initiative to have students and teachers think about doing the polar opposite of bullying. It’s the idea of being kind. Teachers and administrators wear t-shirts that say “Be Kind” on the front. (I’ve got one of the t-shirts!) Since school is only into its seventh week it’s hard to make any “kind” of determination on the effect or non-effect of the initiative yet. 

Students ARE influenced by slogans and sayings, images and symbols, but I’m not sure how well a school can teach kindness. It’s on a different plane than learning algebra, what the functions are of the three branches of government, or the different body parts of a grasshopper are. 

From my Christian faith, kindness is one of the results that emerges in the life of a Christ-follower as he/she allows the Holy Spirit to take up residence in his/her life. Kindness, along with other characteristics like perseverance, self-control, and peace are called “fruit of the Spirit.” That’s not to say that someone who isn’t a follower of Jesus can’t be kind, but I’m more comfortable with the belief that the Spirit can develop it within my life than in the idea that it can be taught to be a part of our human nature. 

Middle school students are a bizarre community of many things- kind and thoughtful, self-centered and obnoxious, unorganized and wrinkled, understanding and supportive. Perhaps teaching and emphasizing kindness will cause a number of them to think about what they say and do before they do it,  but I’m hesitant to believe it will change them for a lifetime. It may simply make this school year a little more tolerable!

I’m not so naive as to believe that if someone is a Christian he/she is automatically kind. I know a lot of people who identify themselves as Christians who are simply jerks! I wouldn’t let them date my granddaughter or walk my cat (if I still had a cat)! 

Jesus modeled kindness for his disciples. His disciples were a bit clumsy in how they showed such a practice, but it finally sunk in. Early followers of Christ were known for their kindness. It grew out of their spiritual relationships and from the life of their community. 

Can schools teach kindness that has sanitized from anything resembling Jesus? Time will tell, but it may end up being more like a “kinda’ kind!”

Opening A Door

January 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  January 23, 2015

                                                  

I watched a video online this week that my wife had forwarded to me that brought me to the edge of tears. It told a story about a young man who had lost his dad, and then he and his mom used from a small town to a city. His mom thought a change in setting would ease some of her son’s pain as he dealt with his father’s death. His new high school was substantially larger than the one in his small town.

It’s hard being the new kid in a setting where people have their friends already, their peer groups, and their places of standing. That is, high schoolers know the pecking order…who to give space to, who to chum up with, and, hard as it is to say, who doesn’t matter that much.

This young man, Josh, started to be picked on and bullied. He had pictures in his locker of his father that got torn down. Sometimes insecure students will do unbelievably cruel things to others…just because!

In the midst of new surroundings and a journey of grief Josh started opening doors for people. He would arrive at school early and hold the door open for other students coming in. In between classes he would hold the hallway door open as students rushed from class to class. After a while some of the students started noticing. He started being referred to as “the door guy.” More and more students started saying “thank you” or they would give Josh a high five! More students became familiar with his story and were taken back by his wounded heart that was still looking at doing simple acts of kindness.

Such a simple thing! Opening a door!

Josh began speaking to groups of elementary and middle school students about bullying and overcoming. He developed his new gift of public speaking…and continued to open doors!

I so often hear people say they have nothing to offer, that they don’t know what their gifts are and how they can serve. There’s a tendency to make it a grandiose thing that is out of their reach. They wallow in their defeat and sense of worthlessness.

Josh’s story hit me, because almost all of us can open a door for someone. Seeking to help is a personal decision, not a talent. Every person can be a benefit to others. Telling a cashier that you hope he has a good day, shoveling your neighbor’s sidewalk, donating a book to the library, mentoring a fatherless child, praying with a parent in a hospital waiting room, or…simply opening a door!

Opening doors doesn’t require training, or to be certified. It’s simply a choice that we avoid or welcome.

 

The Emerging Rude Factor

October 24, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                October 24, 2012

 

I was driving in the downtown area today with my youngest daughter and witnessed a determined lady turning on to the street we were on and disregarding a woman and her pre-schooler crossing the street. She sped on to pursue her daily agenda items, leaving an angry mom in her wake.

But sometimes there is justice! A police cruiser saw the whole thing, turned the flashing lights on, and sped after the speeding lady.

If only it would be that way all the time!

Rudeness has made a comeback, not that it ever left. It is leaving offended people behind it as it races on. I see it at high school sporting events, not just with the students, but also with the adults. Once in a while a display of good sportsmanship emerges to the point that it is commended and put on YouTube, but those have become the exceptions and not the norm.

I see it in how young people treat older people, and how older people treat younger people.

I see it in politics, but enough of that!

I see it in how people treat someone who is overweight; and I see it in how someone who is slower than another person can tolerate.

I especially see it in driving habits.

And now I see it in Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.

I see it on t-shirts that seek to either incite, draw attention, or both.

And I see it in the church.

Rudeness has become the norm.

The thing is…there’s this list qualities and characteristics that are written down in Galatians 5 by the Apostle Paul. It’s a good list! A list that many of us would want to see lived out in our child, or the potential marriage partner that we bring home to meet Mom and Dad. It’s a list of fruits, spiritual fruits. As I look at that list- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- each of the fruits goes sharply against rudeness in some way.

If I’m patient I won’t try to rush ahead and cut someone off.

If I’m kind I won’t look for the first opening to tear someone down.

If I’m joyful there will be no bitterness in my actions.

 

Rudeness is a slippery slope sliding towards ripped apart relationships.

And why do we give in to its lure. Because even though we don’t want to admit it, too often it is still all about you, or all about me. And if you point that out to me I may call you rude!