Keys are important. They help us unlock, start, or open different objects or places. Unfortunately, I seem to misplace my keys daily. I have spent precious moments scouring the house, my purse, the car, and my pockets for keys when I should be traveling to my next destination.
As a parent, I have also spent a great deal of time searching for keys; however, these keys were for the purpose of eternity. These were keys needed to help me unlock the hearts of my kids, open doors of freedom or opportunity, or start a new adventure. In a culture that is running rampant with accusation, public defamation of others, war and rumors of war, kindness matters —and it was one key I was determined to discover.
The English Oxford Dictionary defines “kindness” as: The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
The Vine’s Expository Dictionary goes on to explain kindness as:
- the sense of what is upright, righteous,
- signifying "not merely goodness as a quality; rather, it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds,
- not goodness expressing itself in indignation against sin, but with grace and tenderness.
So, while kindness is certainly an expression of good deeds, the deed cannot be separated from the heart attitude; in other words, we are seeking how to raise kids who not only express kind deeds, but literally overflow from the inside out with kindness; their deeds are just an expression of what their hearts feels.
Does Kindness Matter?
The next step in our search for keys is to determine; “Is this important to me as a parent?” As parents, educators, and leaders, we must ask ourselves if we value kindness. Is this a key worth searching? Without the keys to my car, I couldn’t go anywhere. Without the keys to kindness, will our children be able to go where they are destined to go? Will they fulfill their destiny without kindness?
To see the absolute power of kindness and why it matters, we have to look no further than the theater and the recent release of the movie Wonder. If I had to summarize the message of the movie, it would be “kindness is more powerful”. Kindness matters! Kindness has the power to change a difficult situation or person into something good.
However, the most important question we must ask is: “Is kindness important to You, Father?”
The answer to God’s heart toward kindness can be found in Exodus 34:6. Moses has asked to see God, and God places Moses in the cleft of the rock and lets His goodness pass before him. God introduces Himself to Moses with these words:
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness (kindness) and truth;
But what is the KEY to raising Kind Kids?
Look For The Key Within
We become what we behold.
If our children are ‘beholding’ us as leaders, teachers, and parents who are being unkind, that is what will be cultivated in their hearts, too. When siblings fight, or children roll their eyes when peers backstab, we, as adults, should begin asking “Where did they learn that behavior?”. We have to start the journey of raising kind kids by looking at ourselves.
I was raised in a single parent family with one older sister. We fought constantly. Even as adults we were unkind to each other. When I had 2 girls, similar in age as my sister and myself, I literally panicked. I did NOT want to have a home that was plagued by fist-fights, angry words, or silence. I had to look no further than my own heart and the seeds of bitterness toward my own sister (and mother) and start the journey within.
We are told in Hebrews 12:15, “And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”
Yes, mom and dad, our own roots of bitterness toward our siblings, parents, and others will cause trouble and poison the hearts of our children. As we behold the One who forgives and let Him shine the light on our own places of unforgiveness, bitterness, and self-centeredness, we become a reflection of Him, and then our kids behold Christ in us.
Language is the Key
Kindness does not mean being nice.
Kindness is based on your internal morals, integrity, and beliefs. Being nice, however, has to do with actions based on how others see you. Being kind may not always appear as being nice— especially in the area of enabling. Oftentimes, being kind means exercising healthy boundaries; saying no.
As a single mother raising 4 children, I wanted to be able to give them things. However, by saying no (without guilt), setting healthy boundaries (because I was cultivating something eternal), I had the opportunity to impart integrity, a generous spirit, and more to my children. By allowing my children to actually feel the ache of going without, they learned empathy and compassion for others in similar situations.
Kindness will result in eternal fruit, where being nice will just be temporary. It will make us, or someone else, feel good for a time. Learn to differentiate between the two, explain the difference to your children and use correct language. Do you want them to be nice? Or kind?
A Work Of The Spirit
Ultimately, the role we have as parents is to introduce our children to Jesus.
Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who are called by His name. Without Christ in us, we do not have access to the Kind King. We can ‘do’ the works of kindness, but the fruit of kindness comes from the well-spring of the Spirit in us. To raise kind kids, we must train them up in the way they should go, teaching them about the love of the Father, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our greatest key is dependency on Christ. Learning to ‘abide in Him’ (John 15). Because without Him, we can do no good thing. As we cultivate these principles in our lives, the natural outflow will be the effect it has on our children. If our homes become a habitation of the Spirit of the Lord, our children will be affected.
Acknowledge and Affirm
Make it a habit to affirm your children and each other for genuine kindness.
In my embittered state (I got better), I saw the negative. I focused on what was not right, always correcting the bad behavior. As I began to heal, however, I began to see the good in my children and others. I was able to begin to affirm and acknowledge the kind words, the hard choice to repent, and the brave deed to not complain. As I saw these glimpses of kindness, I fanned them into flame by affirming and acknowledging.
Since kindness is indeed a fruit of the Spirit, we can water the seeds of kindness in the hearts of our children by affirming and acknowledging.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
Misty Honnold is the Founder and President of Mountain of Myrrh Ministry a.k.a. The Single MOM KC, a nationwide organization reaching out to single mothers with the message of hope. She used her gifts as a visionary mother to raise 4 children. Now she brings value to other women and families through inspirational teachings, leadership and coaching. As an unashamed extrovert, Misty is a party waiting to happen and loves to celebrate all of life’s moments.