The Problem with My Tough Love Approach
By Kristen Terrette
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12
Compassion doesn’t always come easily for me. In all my years working with and having my own children, I’ve realized I’m more of a “tough love” authority figure. This personality trait extends into my adult relationships, too. When a friend is going through a life change or problem and relentlessly dwells on it, I’m tempted to say, “Pull up your boot straps, get over it, and put one foot in front of the other.” Possibly adding, “Now get to it!”
I realize when someone is caught in an endless cycle of destruction, they might need to hear those forceful words, but today’s verse clearly shows how believers should handle relationships. As God’s chosen people, we have to be wrapped in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Notice the clothing analogy Paul, the author of today’s verse, uses. We put clothes on our body.
As Christians, we’re empowered to put on these traits, even when they don’t come naturally for us. The Holy Spirit gives us the understanding and strength to live out these relational characteristics.
Often, those going through hard times won’t benefit from my “tough love” approach. Instead, they need a listening ear, tender nudge, a hug, and prayers. They deserve to be shown kindness in the same way the Father shows us. They should be handled with patience, gently urged to push on with one hand held firmly by Jesus and the other in ours as we, their friend, help move them toward hope and healing.
Do you need to put on compassion as I do? I pray God opens our eyes to moments when we can shine as His chosen people and show others tender love and a humble and patient attitude.
Kristen Terrette holds a Master's degree in Theological Studies and served as a Children's Ministry Director for five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives 45 minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. She’s following her dream by writing Christian fiction during the day and being a wife and mom come early afternoon when the family starts to arrive home. She also serves on the Wholly Loved Ministriesteam, serves at her local church on the women's leadership team, and writes for Crosswalk.com. To see her blog and novels, check out her website.
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