"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

kindness

“I’m not sure it’s correct to say that it’s more important to be kind than right but I can say that if you are not kind, you are not right.” Brian McLaren

Somewhere back near the beginning of this blog, I did a post that revolved around that quote. It stirred up quite a conversation, one which I am not eager to re-visit.

It's a thought that sticks with me, and which has again become prominent in my mind lately. I think there are very few statements that are universally true (as in non-debatably absolute, all the time, in any place), and this one is probably not one of them.

But it's still a powerful one.

When I focus on being right, it tends to be with an underlying assumption of someone else's wrong-ness. AND it furthers that assumption with the idea that probably I should correct that wrong-ness, with my right-ness.

When I focus on being right, it tends to be about drawing a line somewhere between me and someone else, with the idea that, "I will put up with a lot, but no more than this." Which is a stupid line to draw. Because I know as soon as I draw it, I'm on the look-out for someone to cross it. And they will. And then I must demonstrate that I am right.

When I focus entirely on being right, I become a person that I like less. Truthfully, my self-esteem is solidly in place most days, but there's nothing wrong with stepping back every now and then, and checking to see if the person I'm being is the person I meant to be.

And this week ... this month ... kindness keeps popping up in my head.

And so I agree with Brian McLaren, although I don't always (and in my experience, his kindness doesn't demand that I agree with him). I don't know if it's better to be kind than right - but kindness gets dumped at the side of the road far too often. And without it, I think it's awfully difficult to be right.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is thought-provoking.

I think one 'for-sure' inherent here, is that, when one is the "listen-er", one certainly remains more open to truly hear when the "speak-er" is kind in stating their remarks/opinion/dogma.

Even if we ultimately disagree - strongly! - we've more likely at least considered whether there was some truth in what was said.

Something to always keep in mind, then, when one is the "speak-er"...

"Speak the truth in love" comes to mind...

(Brian McLaren is some kind of thinker/author!)

wwmn

Anonymous said...

Focusing on being right is really reflective of one's need to be right. In the hierarchy of needs that would translate into demonstrating one's need for power. All humans have an innate need, to one degree or another, for power. I believe it is a God given need, but one that requires submission to His will in order to be truely balanced and exercised in a Godly manner. The wrong side of power ends up in the jungle of pride o so easily. We humans are good at that.
Kindness, graciousness, love, prefering others before ourselves is a challenge only on the best of days and is a fruit only the Holy Spirit is capable of developing in us. Providing, of course, that we submit to Him.
I cannot speak for anyone else, and I certainly am not going to claim ultimate authority on the subject, I only know that when I "do it my way" I tend to mess things up (I seem to be good at that at times) but when I submit to God and His Spirit things go better - for everyone involved.
Thank God He loves me and helps me.

:0)

Sheepdog said...

You said sometimes you are "checking to see if the person I'm being is the person I meant to be."

What an excellent thought. I like that. Can I steal that line from time to time?

Maybe if we stood back more often we would also be kind more often? (I don't know the answer to that one)

Anonymous said...

Kindness falls right in line with extravagant love. That is the ideal we all desire to be.

Anonymous said...

This all assumes that one is right but what if one is wrong? Or worse yet, what if one thought they were right and then later found out they were wrong. Do they apologize? And if so then who needs to be kind? Just thinking.

Dougie G said...

That's why many people cannot embrace Christianity. They think God is not kind. He drew a line in the sand and said that if we do not accept his son Jesus, we will die forever in a place called hell. Ouch! Could that be true? There must be another way.Could something like sin be serious enough to kill somebody over? Is that kind? Sometimes we extend the line in the sand so far that God's message of sin's consequences get's candy coated in kindness. He said there is only one way to heaven and that is through his son Jesus. Only one way? One line in the sand? Surely he will let other believers of other religions into his heaven. There must be more than one way. A kind God would be all-inclusive. That's the kind of God the world wants.
I guess that's why we have to call him "LORD". He makes up the rules, not us.
Those of us that tell others what the bible says about the consequences of sin sometimes get labled as being unkind. That's OK. We're in good company. Jesus said there would be persecution for upholding the Gospel. There are Christians being killed all over the world right now for spreading that message. It's not always popular. It is the TRUTH. It is right.

Janer said...

All I can say, Patti, is Amen to your post. A beautiful reminder of Christ in action.

Patti said...

thanks Janer. :)