We are living in interesting times. I’ve never seen a time when so many people are unkind to one another. It grieves my heart, and I’m pretty sure it grieves God’s heart too.
We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. (2 Cor. 6:6, NLT)
As I interviewed Glenys Nellist and read several of her books, I was struck by the power of encouragement and kindness and the great need our world has for it today. I can think of many reasons being kind is important, but here are a few:
- Our children need a world filled with kindness. Their hearts are young and susceptible to discouragement, and they do not have the maturity yet to filter out unkindness that is thrown at them as the other person’s problems. Whereas we can sometimes realize someone is just in a bad mood and is taking it out on us, a child may think the words are truth. I don’t buy into the self-esteem trap where we are supposed to flatter our children incessantly and make them feel like they are near perfection. But allowing children to see that kindness, love, and joy exists in this world because God embodies all of those and wants all of those for us, helps children become resilient and strong. It helps build a foundation of faith they will need throughout their lives.
- We’re commanded to be kind and encouraging to each other as Christ’s disciples. Like loving others, this is an unconditional command from God.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14, NLT)
- Kindness and encouragement changes lives and our outlook toward the future. In short, it births hope and joy resulting in strength and resilience. If we had a medicine or vitamin that could accomplish this, we would be sharing it like crazy. Kind and encouraging words and actions change our attitudes whether we give or receive them. I love to watch a child’s face when a genuine, honest word of encouragement is given. They light up and straighten up, sitting or standing taller, and we can sometimes sense the stress and weight they are carrying, lift a little off their shoulders. I know I’ve felt it myself. So did Paul: Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. (Philemon 1:7, NLT)
- Kindness turns away anger. It can extinguish bitterness and lead to open conversations, reconciliation, and understanding. The only ones who get angry at kindness are those who are so imbittered holding onto hatred and a destructive agenda that they cannot let love in any longer. The Bible does warn that this can happen when we’ve rejected God’s love and guidance long enough, we can reach a point of futility. Notice, this is not talking about people who don’t yet know God. This is talking about us.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. (Romans 1:21, NLT)
- Kindness and encouragement allow us to think rationally. They can dispel fear and dread and worry and even alleviate feelings of depression and being overwhelmed. That may seem like overstatement, but I don’t think it is. If we think about our own experiences and reactions and the stories we’ve heard of how a simple act of kindness changed a person’s choice from ending their life and to a positive, determined path, we realize it can be this miraculous.
This is silly, I know. Please don’t cringe too much, but I was thinking about when my kids were little and how they sometimes had a superhero day at school or were asked what their superpower would be if they could choose anything. I’ve often answered that question with wishing I had the ability to transport anywhere I wanted to be so I could visit friends all over the world on the slightest whim, but now, I know what I want my super power to be, and we can all possess this one. That is encouragement. I want to be an encourager. Not a flatterer, but a heart-lifting, hope-sparking, joy-creating encourager. It’s the kind of superhero we need today.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Col. 3:12, NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor. 13:11, NLT)
Here is a poem I wrote a while ago that seems fitting:
This Is Kindness
Kindness isn’t weak like flattery
And niceties can be
Kindness is strong
And waters the mustard seed of faith
Kindness cheers, comforts, nudges,
And spurs us on
Kindness encourages and lifts up
And never puffs up
Kindness is love with shoes on
Stepping up to meet a need
Kindness is sympathy with dirty knees
From kneeling beside us when we fall
Kindness is generosity
That knows when to say no
Kindness is visionary
It sees the possibilities
In the hopeful heart
And the determined mind
It sees past the hurt, pain, and walls
To the truth, the potential, the possibilities
Kindness does not coddle
Or nicely patronize our inabilities
Kindness says, “You can do it; keep trying”
Helps us try again when we don’t think we can
Kindness cheers from the balcony
As we dance across the stage of life
It soothes us when we stumble and fall
But it doesn’t suggest we wallow in the mud
It helps us stand again
Not push us down because we failed
Kindness has better visions
Of bright futures and possibilities
Kindness is a realist acknowledging the wrong
So we can embrace the right
Kindness drops the stones of judgment
To give us a helping hand
And walks along beside us
In wisdom and hope
Kindness sees us with God’s eyes
And cares with His heart
And gives us the strength
To be peacemakers and bridgebuilders
Kindness helps us be Gospel-carriers
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.
Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.
Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.
For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com
Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.
Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.
Disclaimer: Although Terrie majored in psychology and sociology for her bachelor’s degree and has taught AP Psychology, she is NOT a licensed therapist. She sometimes mentions items in her blog and podcast that could be considered comments on psychology, but these comments are based on ministry experience and ministering to people through the missions and church work she’s done for the past 36 years. If you have questions about psychological disorders or counseling needs, please consider finding a reputable, licensed counselor in your area. Terrie’s comments should be seen as anecdotal and ministry-experience-related or scripture-based. Thank you!