My friend Steph just emailed this question, “I’m currently reading Corrie ten Boom’s “Tramp for the Lord”. Have you read this? It’s so good. Anyways, in there she’s talking about her first bath and meal after being freed from the Nazi prison and she says that the girls who bathed her were “trained in kindness”. I thought about my girls and how I would love for this to be them – to be trained in kindness. Any practical insight in how to do that?“
I sat down to reply and these little scenes gathered in my mind:
One time, I saw a 4-year-old boy put his arm around his 4-year-old soccer teammate, to comfort him after a big disappointment.
Another time, an energetic 7-year old boy stood behind a group of hungry kids and said, “I can go last.”
This past Sunday, a 9-year old girl accidentally hurt my daughter. She stooped down beside her, touched her back and asked, “Are you alright? I am so sorry!”
And, of course, there was that time I brought our children to a Field Day. My 18-month old baby boy was reaching into a little plastic swimming pool, feeling the water. A gang of 7-year-old boys started goading my impressionable baby with, “Put your head in the water! Put your head in the water!” A brave 8-year-old stood up and said to them, “Put your own heads in the water.”
(Don’t you just love that?)
Kindness touches our hearts, reminding us of what we truly, deeply desire.
Life is busy and distracting; we forget that we need kindness like we need air.
But when we see kindness, we remember its importance and we breathe it in.
When we see unkindness, we gasp and miss it.
We want kindness in our homes and in our kids. We want it for our happiness – and theirs. We want it for God’s glory. But it does not come naturally.
Is it possible to teach our children how to be kind?
Oh, yes! It’s not only possible, it’s necessary. Kindness must be the heart-and-soul of our ministry as mothers. For it is the heart-and-soul of Christ’s ministry. It’s part of love. It’s what the Holy Spirit creates day after day, the fruit of kindness.
Let’s walk backward, down the route toward training our children in kindness. Take a look and tell me what you would add:
3. We teach our children to be kind by inviting them to be kind with us.
When someone has stubbed a toe, say “Let’s go get him an ice pack!” When someone is lonely, say “Let’s go visit her together! We’ll cheer her up!” When someone needs something, say “Let’s give him what he needs.”
Your child will lean on your hand, your company, and your enthusiasm for kindness. Don’t expect the initiative to come from your little one; she’s just starting out in life. You’ll come up with the ideas and invite her along for the joy.
Of course, we can’t invite our children to be kind with us, unless we are kind to them.
2. We teach our children to be kind by being kind to them.
I learned to brush my daughters’ hair, rub lotion on my son’s dry hands, spoon-feed my baby because my mother did all of those things for me. I learned to plan special celebrations, write heartfelt notes, give a hug, sing a song, and save the day because my mother did all of those things for me.
Knowing how delightful kindness feels, my heart’s desire and greatest pleasure has become extending kindness to others. My mother spoke the language of kindness until I learned to speak it, too.
Let’s make this question the air we breathe out, “How can I help, darling?”
Of course, we can’t be kind to our children unless we have received the kindness of Christ.
1. We teach our children to be kind by receiving kindness from Christ.
Our own efforts to be kind wear thin, but Jesus sustains kindness forever. Once we have received His kindness toward us – His life laid down on our behalf – all of our selfish questions are answered and our longings are satisfied. This is profoundly life-changing, settling our hearts in such a way as to make human kindness possible. To make matters better, Jesus Himself will work in us to produce kindness in this dark world.
Savor the kindness of Christ every day, every moment.
In Christ, we will extend kindness to our children day by day. We’ll extend kindness to the outside world, inviting our children to join us.
Don’t you worry… One day, your little girls will do the same, well-trained and well-loved by kindness, just like you.