…add to your goodness, knowledge; to your knowledge, add self-control;
to your self-control, add endurance; to your endurance, add godliness; to
your godliness, add kindness and to your kindness add love…”
2 peter 1:5
Kindness is a gift that means a lot to people. When someone does a kind thing for us, we usually feel touched and grateful. Yet signs of kindness are often small acts of thoughtfulness rather than major sacrifices or long-term commitments. People who develop the gift of kindness in their lives find that they approach relationships, friendships, and working partnerships with the question, “What can I do to help or make things easier for someone else?” A friend of mine, Claire, a leader of one of my professional associations told me this story…
The evening before a big conference was to begin the conference director was rushed to the hospital for an unknown ailment and eventually for emergency surgery. The director had planned to spend most of the night before the conference getting the site prepared, taking care of the last-minute details and ensuring everything was perfect. Fortunately, several of the workshop leaders for the conference were “conference veterans.” When informed of the problem, they stopped what they had planned for that evening and stepped in and worked as a team, doing what needed doing to get the conference set up and going.
Claire was one of those speakers-turned-helpers. She set up rooms, checked people in, found props for one of the presentations, and made sure refreshments were provided and set up. Several times during the evening a certain fellow came over to Clare and quietly offered his help. Claire was grateful for the extra set of hands and murmured a quick “thank you” each time he helped. But Claire did not actually notice the person who those hands belonged to. Most of the time her mind had been running on two tracks. On the one hand she was committed to making the conference run smoothly, and on the other she was thinking about all the things she needed to do for her presentation later in the day.
The next day, when the last session of the conference was about to conclude, there was nothing else that Claire had to do until the final clean-up. A man stepped in front of Claire, gently held her by the shoulders and smilingly commandeered her attention. “Hi!” he said as he introduced himself. “I’m Bill. I don’t think you’ve noticed me, but I have been helping you this whole time and I’d like t get to know you. I’d like to become your friend.” Claire was initially taken aback, but in this particular professional association, directness was (is) seen as a virtue.
Reflecting for just a moment, Claire acknowledged to herself that she had been too busy to truly notice him. Claire apologized to Bill and genuinely thanked him for his help throughout the day. They then spent the next thirty minutes beginning a friendship that has lasted nearly thirty years. Bill was not only kind, but he was also patient, enduring, and wanting to know about this new person with whom he was working. By the way, their relationship eventually blossomed into love that has kept them wedded for all this time.