When I was growing up, the parenting model so many times was "Do as I say, not as I do." Fortunately my parents didn't subscribe to that type of parenting. My parents showed kindness, modeled kindness for the rest of us to emulate. How did my father show kindness? A great example was my dad coming home from working all day and before sitting down to dinner, he would go next door to the single mom with 3 small children and mow her lawn. He did this for years. Not once…. but many times over the years. What do think that taught us kids? He taught us to take care of others by his actions. We knew he would take care of his family, so that was not ever questioned, but he consistently showed us how to care for others. That mom could have mowed the yard herself, but having 3 children himself, he also knew how tired she would be, so he chose to do it for her. She didn't have a stay at home spouse to help take care of the home front to make sure all ran smoothly. He chose to act!
Another way kindness was modeled was through financial giving in our family. After he and my mom determined what their tithe would be to our local home church, then they brought the 3 girls together and as a family, we determined what would be done with the rest of the money they put aside to help others. Would it be sponsoring a missionary in another country, would it be buying a few goats or cows for a family in another country that would allow them to have a way to feed their family or would it be through sponsoring a child or several children. Before you say that you can't afford this, we didn't grow up with a lot of money. We had what we needed, my parents always made sure of that, but there were certainly times that were lean. Did we not give during those lean years? No, of course we continued to give, because as lean as it might be, we certainly had it much better than those in other parts of the world. We knew at least that we always had the opportunity to earn more, whereas some these people in underdeveloped countries had no way to earn more. Where we could see that things would improve for our family, many times these other families have no hope. Isn't it kindness what really matters? How do you think it felt to a family thousands of miles away to know that only because of the kindness of strangers, they will have hot meal on their table. Maybe not even a hot meal, but at least food to feed their family for another week or month.
Kindness can be defined in many ways. So many ways that are 100% free! What is the cost of a smile or a kind word? What does it really cost you to give a sincere thank you or a sincere compliment to someone? Think about the last time someone gave you a compliment completely out of the blue. Did you grumble about it or did it make you smile? I'm willing to bet you not only smiled, but you probably thought about it again later that day or maybe even shared it with your spouse or children later that day.
So I challenge you today. Look for ways to be kind! To a friend, to a complete stranger or your spouse or co-workers. Kindness should start at home, yet so many of us are tired by the time we get home that the people we profess to love the most, don't get to see the kind side of us. Show them. Model it for your children. It matters! They are watching, even when you think they are so glued to their video game or their I-phone. They watch. They see us and they will treat people what they have seen and lived modeled.
Kindness matters. Today, choose kindness and watch the people around you blossom! Today, be kind.