Kindness is underrated.
In Proverbs 11:16, the writer says that “A kindhearted woman gains respect, but a ruthless man gains only wealth.” This is an interesting truth. When I spend so much effort and time and energy and thought and worry and anxiety and frustration and work striving to attain what one might call success in the eyes of the many, how many of those people’s opinions really matter anyway? Sure, it’s pretty cool to be recognized for something you do, and you can definitely ride on the high of it for a while, but there comes a point when you start to question yourself despite the constant affirmation because no matter how much praise you get you’re also always going to be criticized, you’re going to be disliked, you’re going to face challenges, you’re going to fail sometimes, and you’re always going to doubt yourself at times. Fame is not all it’s cracked up to be.
French soccer player Aurelien Collin once said that while most people come to Christ in a dark time in their life, he found God at the highest point of his. He was named MVP of the MLS cup, and it was that night as he realized he should be out celebrating, on top of the world, when he asked the question, “Is this all there is?” The next morning he went and found a chaplain and started asking questions, trying to find out if there was anything more. He found his answer.
John and Hank Green are people I admire immensely. They’ve raised thousands of dollars for charity and create educational and interesting video content on YouTube over multiple channels (links at end of post). They’re unapologetic nerds simply out to “make the world suck less.” John Green is known widely for his NY Times bestselling books such as The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns, and Hank is the successful founder of EcoGeek, VidCon, Subbable, and VidCon, among other things. I’ve heard both brothers say, on separate occasions, that they’ve often been asked what it’s like to be successful. And what they’ve said is that it’s a weird concept to them to be put in this little box that, necessarily, can contain only a few, because society’s definition of success seems to be being recognized by a large number of people for your achievements, and so by default only a relatively small number of people can fall into that definition because we can only keep track of so much in our brains. And what they’ve said is, that you don’t really have success so much as you have successes. You have high points, where you achieve something great, you create something worthwhile, but you never arrive, is what they’re saying. This is never it. You never wake up one morning, and say to yourself, this is it, I’ve made it, I’ve arrived. And to be honest, they said, in the end, what you’re really concerned about is the people who are really close to you. And they’re the people who see the real you, behind the achievements and goals and dreams. They see you, hopefully, for your heart. And that’s what God sees too. And hopefully, what they see is kindness, and integrity. And those things are the things that often come in small packages, packages that aren’t much in themselves but when they become a lifestyle, a core part of you, people notice. Especially those people who are close to you, who care. And even more especially those people who receive it. And maybe, in the end, those are the people who matter. Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Kindness and integrity, those are things you have to develop as habits, not as gestures. They don’t happen in one giant donation or a grand week-long missions trip. They’re things that happen on a day-to-day basis, in the way you respond to challenges, the way you speak to others, the way you treat authority, the way you interact with coworkers, the way you treat the needy, the ways you give of yourself or hold back, whether you’re willing to reach out or take that step or be bold in love or live out what you keep on saying. They don’t happen all at once. And they don’t happen automatically. They’re habits you have to build steadily and intentionally, checking yourselves in the little things you say and do, the ways you respond when things don’t go your way, and when they do. It’s not glamorous or thrilling, but it brings almost irrational joy, even when at first you might be questioning if it’s really worth it. Even if it means you have to get a little bit out of your comfort zone. As the great Dr. Seuss once wrote:
Kindness is underrated.
I’ve been doing a study on kindness, and I looked up every single verse in the Bible that mentions kindness (NIV). If you want to check out the list, click here.