Unless you have been living on another planet for the last few years, you may have noticed there is an increasing lack of kindness in our world. It seems everyone has lost the filter that keeps them from saying and doing every hurtful, hateful thing that enters their minds. Sadly, even Christians have not seemed to be totally immune to this virus of unkindness.
When anyone teaches on the Fruit of the Spirit, they seem to fly right over kindness. It’s definitely on the list though, right after love, joy, peace and patience. Yet, I have never heard sermons or read articles and books on the idea that God expects his people to be kind. Period.
I was interested naturally, when a book on kindness was finally offered to me to review. It was by one of my favorite Christian authors, Shaunti Feldhahn. Her books on marriage are great, because they combine God’s commands and principles with hard, cold facts, leaving no wiggle room for avoiding what you must do.
The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship did not disappoint. The principle is simple. Make three major changes in how you probably are treating others – especially those who annoy you – and watch how God works in the relationship. Since the execution is a tiny bit more complex for most, Feldhahn gives you explanations, tips, research data and a few nudges to help.
I love, love, love that she addresses the denial most of us are in about how we treat other people. She gives lots of relatable stories to help the reader confront how often unkindness has become the default for all of us. She doesn’t stop there, though.
As someone who likes practical writing, I appreciate she took the time to do some serious research on the topic. I am not sure how she funds her research, but it puts a little weight behind what she is suggesting. She isn’t relying solely on antidotal evidence from fans’ comments to prove her points.
Feldhahn’s research suggests her kindness plan works in almost every relationship. Yet, she hastens to add that kindness does not mean you allow people to abuse you or fail to provide correction for children or employees. Rather, she teaches you how to frame that boundary or correction in kindness, making it much more effective. In her words, kindness is not necessarily always the same as “being nice”.
The three basic principles sound simple enough – cut the negativity, praise and do small acts of kindness. So why read the book? Because most of us think we already do those things and it isn’t making a difference. As she breaks down each step, while providing examples and empirical data, the light begins to dawn on the reader. We really aren’t nearly as kind – nor do we know how to be kind – as much as we think.
At that point, she gives lots of practical examples and suggestions for behaviors to replace the negative ones we all have and regularly practice without much thought. The back section in particular has a specific challenge for each of thirty days for ways husbands can be kinder to wives, wives to husbands, and for doing it for anyone other than a spouse. None of the challenges were particularly difficult in and of themselves. The challenge is more about being intentional and consistent in your kindness towards others.
Even though I was given a copy for free in exchange for my honest review, I have already put in pre-orders for additional copies for others. Frankly, if I could afford it, I would buy this book by the caseload and hand them out to everyone I know. Yes, the Bible should be enough to convict us to be kind, but maybe a lot of us need this book to give us specific tips and instructions. If you read this book and aren’t challenged to take another look at your own words and actions, make some adjustments or major changes and pass it on to others in your life, I will be shocked. It’s just that practical and helpful.
A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.