This article comes to you today courtesy of the sushi chef who lovingly pointed my daughter, granddaughter, and me in the right direction toward the Transit Lounge at the hospital my mother has been staying in.
Here are the simplest ways to be the best of blessing to others:
- Pray for the interruption – when someone seeks our help, i.e. they’re lost (read, anxious), the God blest thing is to smile, be calm, be inside the other person (empathize), listen, and calmly lead them by the simplest of instructions to where they need to go. Be well prepared to repeat yourself. Speak slowly but not condescendingly. If necessary, take them there. Be disrupted. To be disrupted is to be blessed.
- Pray for the parking spot – for someone else! That’s right, if there’s one parking spot left it’s theirs. This is an anxiety-defying feat because God will light the way even as you open the way for another.
- Pray into another person’s anxiety – yes, we all have it! How unusual, countercultural (yes, even in Christian circles), and fascinatingly foreign is it to feel into another person’s anxiety and do THE THING they need you to do to alleviate it. It’s not about owning what is theirs, but it’s about adding no burden to them. What they need is the simplest convenience afforded to them; yes, we can do that.
- Check-in on a vulnerable person – the faithfulness of God leads us to do this at precisely the time they need it. Yet, if we get the timing wrong, especially in THAT is the opportunity to love them particularly well. It’s our attitude to not being needed that sets our kindness apart as remarkably genuine.
- Check-in on the details you might otherwise take for granted – ever thought of kindness as not forgetting something and therefore not inconveniencing someone? This is an important kindness! How frustrating is it when someone lets us down? Perhaps they simply forgot. It’s even worse when they make an excuse and don’t own their error. This is why taking time to remember an important detail is paramount to executing this form of kindness.
- Check-in on those who are adjusting to change and loss – this may not sound that helpful, but it always is. Sometimes the most practical support is offering kindness that isn’t practical, but that which meets emotional needs. Honestly, this can be done in less than a minute through your presence — a minute that holds back the hands of time. Just act as if time is of zero relevance.
- Resist the anxiety in rejecting a person – possibly we disagree with them or find them obnoxious, or they have a practice that annoys us, or we find for some reason our heckles are drawn. We have a conversation with ourselves: who’s problem is this? That’s right. It’s mine. I can overcome this and choose to be kind.
- Resist being stubbornly ‘right’ – there’s something about righteousness that is nothing about ‘being right’ (in our own minds). True righteous abides by God’s truth and not our own. Not being “in MY truth.” “Your truth… my truth…” Little wonder there is so much conflict and division. Try being WRONG for a change and see what that does to BUILD a relationship.
- Resist insisting that others change – they won’t. Nothing we can do will make people change, and in fact, the more we dig our heels in, the more people stubbornly resist what we want them to do. People hate being manipulated and how can we know this? WE ourselves hate being manipulated. Change nobody but self. To resist manipulating people is a massive kindness to everyone in our orbit.
- Commit to something hard – it is amazing how God comes through faithfully when we promise something hard to achieve. I think of Psalm 15:4. Those who please God are so kind to do and follow through with what is hard. Think of this; hard promises to keep are easier to keep because they’re harder to forget, and not only are they exquisite kindnesses, but they demonstrate the power of God at work in us.
- Commit to our own healing – a very crucial kindness is that which we can do for ourselves. Think of it this way; others benefit indirectly and sometimes directly from whatever healing we experience. See how God’s love for us, in us, through us, is for others as well? I would argue others benefit more than we do, and that pleases the Lord greatly.
- Commit to God and keep re-committing – nothing has us closer to gratitude and the power at work in our weakness than recognizing the beauty and power of God through the Spirit’s work of grace. To muse on grace, to meditate on it, to consider just what and how much God has done in Christ. Every time we commit and re-commit to God, we come closer to the pinnacle of human experience.
- Demonstrate resilience – incredibly it’s in us all, more than we think it is anyway! I’ll never forget learning this lesson. As an early 20s, competitive bodybuilder committed to 2-4 hours of physical training a day, I was constantly amazed by how much and how far I could push my body — provided I was wise enough to not be silly and risk injury. Just the same, our limits of tiredness, inner strength, patience, etc, can be pushed, and with a positive affirming attitude, God can show us that we will not be let down. The counterpoint to this is nobody gets away with pushing themselves 100 percent of the time. We need the balance of rest. The purpose of demonstrating resilience is we hold out our strength for others. A strength they may not have; that’s kindness.
- Demonstrate willingness – the opposite of wilfulness! Willingness is saying to God, “Lord, YOU own my life, and the great thing about this is, as YOU direct my steps, I’m certain to be protected by peace, hope, and joy — to DO what I can to glorify YOUR name.” Nothing inspires gratitude in those with the capacity for gratitude more than us being willing to cheerfully serve them as they need us. And the greatest love is a kindness done for NO reward.
- Demonstrate patience – is there a better way of being kind than being patient? And have you ever noticed that patience is an intensely practical thing? You can’t ‘think’ patiently. But you can DO patience. Because patience is hard, this is an intentional kindness.
- Enjoy the idea of another’s success – like all the rest, this kindness is an intentional act. Imagine actually applying praise and recognition of another person with a sincere heart, and best when they least expect the accolades. Rejoice with those who rejoice.
- Enjoy time with someone who is suffering or grieving – I don’t mean ‘enjoy’ like, “This is great!” I really mean it’s finding our purpose sitting there in the silence with them, or listening, or gently encouraging them, or providing practical support of service. When we enjoy what we’re doing, people can tell we WANT to do it. People who are grieving or suffering will often feel guilty for the support we might give them, so it’s up to us to enjoy the moment of providing the care they need. Mourn with those who mourn.
- Enjoy being creative – kindness is a creative act. The more kindnesses we do, the more our hearts will grow in looking for and taking the opportunities to be kind. God will open our ears, eyes, and heart to the possibilities.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Tribework