“Nothing is more responsible for more relationship hell, brokenness, separation, divorce, and irreconcilable differences than unkindness. Nothing.”
After yesterday’s post – over 1,700 views – the temptation is to simply run another set of photos from Youth Sunday, throw in a scripture, and move on to my work. But I have something else on my mind this morning.
The topic is “kindness.” Kindness stands as one of the best and most compelling evidences of real love; yet it is – in my estimation – undervalued and under-practiced in too many relationships, especially in marriages.
I’m not a pastor, and I’m not a counselor, but I am an attentive friend and a good listener. I ask good questions, and I help people to understand, to unravel, and to tell their stories. As a writer I have interviewed literally hundreds of people and peeled back the layers; as a leader I have listened to scores of men share their story; as a friend I continue to build honest, deepening relationships.
And if I had to boil everything down to the essentials – especially as it pertains to relationships in the home – I would have to say (along with the singer Jewel, in her song Hands, 1998), “In the end, only kindness matters.” Nothing is more responsible for more relationship hell, brokenness, separation, divorce, and irreconcilable differences than unkindness. Nothing.
This is a simplistic statement (and believe it has the foundation to stand under scrutiny) but I sincerely believe it doesn’t matter what is going on – who is right, who is being fair, who is trying, who isn’t, how antagonistic the other partner is, what history you are dealing with, how the specific issue in question is playing out, or any of a whole list of relationship variables – the correct intervention on your part must always involve not only kindness, but an increase in kindness. Kindness “without prejudice.”
- “Without prejudice” is defined, legally, as: Without abandonment of a claim, privilege, or right, and without implying an admission of liability.
This is a critically important idea, and ideal. Look at the scriptures. When Paul wrote his beautiful definition of love, kindness was the second word that came to his mind.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Later, when the writer of Galatians wanted to make a list of evidences that point to the work of God in us, this is what was emphasized: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
So here is my short word for the day – especially, but not limited to, men and the way that we relate to our spouse. Be kind.
Don’t worry about being right, winning an argument, demonstrating your authority, defending yourself, proving your prowess, getting to “the facts,” straightening things out, “fixing” anything, saving face…. etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…. But instead be kind.
And if you’re wondering what kindness is, it involves concepts such as courtesy, civility, gentleness, grace, tenderness, understanding, unselfishness… And kindness involves patience, not being arrogant, not being rude, not insisting on its own way, not being irritable….
In my book (and there is a new one coming!) kindness could well be the most manly characteristic we could practice.
– I dare you – DEREK