What has happened to our society that might, not kindness is viewed as the pathway to changing the world? How is it possible to truly believe that winning at all costs is the path to pursue in life? What happens when you lose, which we will a good portion of the time, that most view this unfortunately as the ultimate embarrassment? I know that being a gracious loser is not the easiest thing to do. Yet, what about being a gracious winner who doesn’t demean the other team or individual but instead shares part of ‘glory’ with them?
Imagine what would happen if most people practiced random acts of kindness? I know that opening a door for someone at Starbucks who has a drink carrier and a pastry is viewed as going above and beyond. Yet, I know that the cry today is that there seems to be a lack of civility not only in the political arena but also in the community, church world and in school. Everyone seems to be obsessed with personal rights to the exclusion of the needs of those around them.
What would happen if I intentionally chose to be a servant leader who actually noticed the needs of those around me? The ultimate test, that does have real life dividends, is when I actually have to sacrifice something for another, especially someone who I don’t know and the person I don’t like or purposely avoid. I know you’ve had the experience, like myself, where you will see someone at the store that you avoid at all costs because you are at odds with them.
I know that it’s easy to believe that paying it forward is all about paying for the person behind you at the drive through fast food place. Yet, the true need is to sacrifice your time and resources to help someone who is going through a life trauma. Imagine what it is like to have your house and neighborhood burn to the ground? Choosing to take a work or rescue vacation and helping someone in a hurricane or fire tragedy is truly a way to make kindness a way of life!
What stood out at President Bush’s funeral was that we’re sadly losing the great generation that did believe that practicing kindness was more important than your social status and winning at all costs. Hearing the story of James Baker, close friend to President Bush, actually rubbing his dear friend’s feet as he was close to death was very moving. I know that Bob Doyle’s choice to be at the viewing and have a care giver help him stand up, walk to the casket and salute President Bush was a true sign of kindness and recognition of the greatness of his friend.
One of the more difficult Biblical principles to understand and follow is that it’s easy to love those or show kindness to those who have been caring and nice to you. It’s another story to show that kindness and graciousness to someone you can’t stand or is very different from you. Last night I was at the community center for our normal weekly tutoring time. I noticed as we walked through the entryway an older gentleman who clearly was homeless. I know that my caring wife actually attempted to talk with him and see if we could help. Sadly, an important part of showing grace is the willingness of the potential recipient to accept it. The homeless man was stubborn and didn’t want help.
I know that it’s my choice to purposely open my eyes to see the people and circumstances around me. This morning a friend ran out of gas and needed help. I was in the process of leaving and easily could have just expressed concern without taking steps to help. Instead, I remembered that I had my gallon gas container and it was full. So, I decided to share what I had. Otherwise, it would have taken my friend probably an hour to get back on the road.
My hope is that those who do live by showing random acts of kindness will influence those around them to be slower to judge and quicker to help regardless of circumstances!