A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 25, 2014
Being Encouraging, Being Kind
I ran into a younger friend of mine earlier today, and we had a few minutes of friendly conversation together. I genuinely engaged with my friend. We talked, shared, laughed. I think I was encouraging and helpful. I did not come right out and ask, but from the unspoken communication that passed between us, I think I was.
Being intentionally kind and tender-hearted every day is a tall order. I’ve tried to be that way for a number of years. Yes, it’s been my job, my profession as a chaplain and caregiver. I try to come alongside of others and use the ministry of presence I learned in seminary. Pastoral care and active listening also are useful in my job. I’ve tried to refine the practice of general courtesy and caring too, with some amount of success.
As I said, I engaged with my friend today and practiced being kind. The Apostle Paul talks about the outgrowth of Christian love at the end of Ephesians 4, specifically outlining several actions that display the love of Christ. Just like when I act in a kind manner to seniors on a regular basis, or help out the neighbors in my building, or try to be open and tender-hearted to strangers who ask me for directions. As I’m sincerely endeavoring to do daily acts of intentional service, I think my loving, caring actions are right on the money. Bingo.
It’s not that I feel puffed up and self-righteous. (“I’m so holy! I’m displaying so much more of a Christ-like attitude than those other people over there!”) That’s not it. But I felt myself reaching out today in a kind, friendly, God-honoring way today. Since it’s usually part and parcel of my job, I’ve done it before, intentionally. So, this is not a new thing for me, but I felt it in a special way today. Have you ever felt God being pleased with you? I mean, in a genial and affirming way? That’s what I felt earlier today after I talked with my friend.
I recall when I had a similar feeling from God, a number of years ago before I started seminary. I was at the sink, washing the dishes. I prayed as I washed. I had something specific that troubled me. I concentrated on it as I washed and rinsed. The solution for my difficulty gradually was revealed to me as I stood in prayer. Afterwards, I vividly remember God being both amused and pleased with me. Not because I was praying in an “appropriate” manner, or getting all of my spiritual ducks in a row. No, I think it was because I was being honest, open and willing in my communication. God saw and honored my sincerity and openness in prayer. That message came through to me, loud and clear.
Just so, I try to be intentionally kind each day. It doesn’t matter whether I’m at work, at home, with friends, or with strangers. I try to be honest, open and willing in both thoughts and actions. I hope I was encouraging to my friend today. God willing, I pray so.