This Could Change Everything
By Ed Delph
August 22, 2022
Consider this definition of kindness. Kindness is anything that lifts another person.
A wise person once said that it's nice to be important but more important to be nice. So being nice and listening to those around us might avoid some embarrassment and even make us some money.
For example, when Tommy Bolt was on the golf tour, he established a well-deserved reputation for his temper. Once in a tournament, he drew a caddie who had a reputation for being a talker, so Bolt told him to keep quiet and restricted his conversation to "Yes, Mr. Bolt" and "No, Mr. Bolt."
As luck would have it, one of Bolt's shots stopped close to a tree. He had to hit the ball under a branch and over a lake to reach the green. He carefully analyzed the situation and made his decision. However, as it frequently happens, halfway talking to his caddie and halfway talking to himself, he asked, "Should I hit it with my five-iron?" Having been duly warned, the caddie responded, "No, Mr. Bolt." Bolt's temper and pride prompted him to say, "What do you mean, not a five-iron? Just watch this shot!” The caddie, still following instructions, said, “No, Mr. Bolt!”
But Bolt wasn't listening. He took dead aim and hit the shot beautifully to the green. It stopped a couple of feet from the hole. With a look of self-satisfaction, Bolt handed the caddie his five iron and commented, "What do you think about that? And it's okay for you to talk now." "Mr. Bolt, that wasn't your ball," the caddie responded.
Hitting the wrong ball cost Tommy Bolt a two-shot penalty and lots of money. The takeaway is to be nice to people, especially those who serve you. And listen to what they say. This story is from Zig Ziglar’s book, Something to Smile About.
Here’s a poem by Danusha Laméris on the value of small kindnesses, from her book, Small Kindnesses.
"I've been thinking about how when you walk down a crowded aisle, and people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. But, mostly, we don't want to harm each other. We want our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other now. We are so far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” or “I like your hat.”
Here are some thoughts about kindness. "The only ones you should try to get even with are the ones who have helped you." Benjamin Franklin said, "When you are good to others, you are best to yourself." "Be kind to people until you make your first million. After that, people will be nice to you." "Never return a kindness. Pass it on." Here's a child's prayer on being nice. "Dear God, make all the bad people good and all the good people nice."
The Bible says men's love will grow cold in the last days. But, the Bible also says that love is patient, love is kind. So, if love grows cold, that necessarily means that kindness will grow cold too. So, how do we overcome that propensity? By overcoming a lack of empathy with a generous dose of kindness. You know how that works; fight the 'Tommy Bolt' propensity in you with the 'caddie' propensity. Don't go to the dark side. Go to the light and right side of things. Remember, an offense is an event. Becoming offended is a choice. Learn the difference.
C. Neil Strait says, "Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person." However, you cannot do kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
The Psalmists said this about God, "Thy lovingkindness is better than life." God doesn't just show us kindness. God shows us lovingkindness and thoughtfulness. How do you describe lovingkindness? Here’s how a little boy describes it.
The teacher asked the pupils to tell the meaning of lovingkindness. A little boy jumped up and said, “Well, if I was hungry and someone gave me a piece of bread, that would be kindness. But if they put a little jam on it, that would be lovingkindness.”
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to change from indifference or rudeness to kindness? Our parched culture is desperate for kindness. Bob Costas says, "Champions don't become champions on the field – they are merely recognized there."
Wouldn’t it be ‘loverly’ if a whole generation of kindness champions quietly moved the idea of kindness from the outside to the inside of themselves? And when these ‘kindness carriers and couriers' began to transform the culture of education, business, church, government, and media, perhaps it could change or elevate the world.
Genuine kindness is an excellent medicine for an ailing society, city, or nation. My advice, apply kindness, and apply kindness generously.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com