March 2013

Kindness Works

Someone noted, "Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” The les¬son was clear. Kindness is not just about being nice; it's about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.

One day secre¬tary of state, Colin Powell, slipped away from his office and security agents and snuck down to the garage, where the employees were immigrants and minorities making minimum wage. The parking attendants had never seen a secretary wandering around the garage. Thinking that he was lost, they asked if he needed help getting back “home?" He told them no. He just wanted to chat. After they talked a while, he asked them a question about their jobs that had puzzled him. Because the garage was too small for all the employees' cars, the attendants had to stack cars one behind the other, "When the cars come in every morning, how do you decide whose car is the first to get out, and whose ends up second or third?" They gave each other knowing looks and little smiles. "Mr. Secretary," one of them said, "it goes like this: When you drive in, if you lower the window, look at us, smile, or even know our name; you're number one to get out. But if you look straight ahead, don't show you see us or that we are doing something for you, well, you are likely to be one of the last to get out." 

Amazed by that answered, Colin Powell, at his next staff meeting shared this story with his senior leaders. He told them, "You can never err by treating everyone in the building with respect, thoughtfulness, and a kind word." It ain't brain surgery. Every person in an organization has value and wants that value to be recognized. Everyone needs appreciation and reinforcement. Taking care of employees is perhaps the best form of kindness. But being kind doesn’t mean you are soft. When young soldiers go to basic training, they meet a drill sergeant who seems to be their worst nightmare. They are terrified. But all that changes. The sergeant is with them every step enforcing, bringing out the strength and confidence they didn't know they had. When they graduate, they leave with an emotional bond they will never forget.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32). First, Paul wrote to put away destructive behaviors toward other: bitterness- smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge-filled attitude that keeps score of wrong; wrath- wild rage or the passion of the moment; anger- internal smoldering and deep settled indignation; clamor- public outburst or brawling that reveals loss of control; slander- the defamation of someone that rises from a bitter heart; and malice- the general term for evil. These sins involve conflict between people, break fellowship, and destroy relationships.  In place of those vices Paul gives is a very simple solution- be kind to one another. Kindness is having and showing a generous, sympathetic, or considerate attitude toward others. It is not just thinking about kindness, but actual doing it. 

Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” is a master interpretation in sound of the unspeakable glory of a moonlight night.  This beautiful piece of music was created because the composer wanted to give something to a blind girl.  This girl could not see the beauties of a moonlight night, so he would tell her in sound, of the beauty her eyes could not behold.  As a result, the world has been enriched by his kindness.

Colin Powell said, “I believe that if you develop a reputation for kindness, even the most unpleasant decisions will go down easier. As the old saying goes, "To the world, you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."

                                                                                                                            -Pastor Mike Kotrla