If you have been a Christian for very long, you are probably familiar with the Fruit of the Spirit. These are a list of godly characteristics that should be obvious in the lives of Christians. (Galatians 5:22-23) Kindness is one that normally doesn’t get much attention. It’s crucial though for living a Christian life.
If you read the New Testament, a pattern becomes obvious. God wants us to love others, but how we treat people as we love them also serves to draw people towards God. They will want to know why your kids are different than other kids they know. Many will start asking questions and your kids can use those opportunities to share their faith.
Since kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit, your kids will have an easier time once they are old enough to decide to become a Christian and are baptized for the remission of their sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Making that transition will be easier though, if they don’t have to break a lot of bad habits. Training them to be kind from the beginning will make it easier when they become a Christian.
So what are the six key areas on which you should focus as you teach your kids how to be kind to others?
- Consideration. This is so rare in our world. These are all of the little things your kids can do to make life easier for other people. Opening doors or offering a seat to someone are the most commonly taught considerate behaviors, but the list should go way beyond that. I was so impressed with one mom I know. She trained her son to take toilet tissue or Clorox wipes and clean the toilet and the area around it every time he urinated. His future wife will be so grateful for this small act of consideration! Think of all of the little things that add basically unnecessary work to tasks – like having to pick up dirty clothes and turn them right side out – instead of them being in the hamper ready for laundry day. Start training your kids to automatically be considerate as they go through their day. It will make a huge positive impression on others.
- Thoughtfulness. Sometimes used as a synonym for consideration, I’m going to differentiate them a bit. Thoughtfulness is doing the extra nice things no one is expecting. Little hostess gifts, thank you notes, cards, flowers – all those little nice things that let people know you think about them when you aren’t with them and you care about them.
- Gentleness. I know this is technically a separate Fruit of the Spirit, but I think it is also a part of being kind. These are the behaviors that keep your kids from accidentally hurting others physically or emotionally. It’s being careful to not knock over the special knick-knack at Grandma’s house or holding the baby so it doesn’t get hurt. It’s about being as loving as possible when delivering bad news or criticism.
- Encouragement. Your kids should be the first ones to cheer on their fellow students. They should be the ones thanking their teachers after every class. Your kids should be helping to lift the spirits of those who are discouraged. They should be the ones building others up when they struggle – not tearing them down even more.
- Support. When they are young, this may be mainly listening to their friends and praying for them. As they get older, they may need to stand up for others. Even though they may not have jobs right now, if your kids are supportive of others, they are willing to give some of their belongings away to help others in need. It’s being the person who is there helping others through tough times.
- Evangelist. Remember the discussion at the beginning? Ultimately love and kindness desperately want everyone to be in Heaven with them one day. Your kids need to know the basics of how to tell others the story of Jesus (beginning with the Fall in the Garden of Eden). They should be able to share a few ways God makes a positive difference in their lives. They should be able to tell others what they need to do to become a Christian. Kindness really isn’t so kind if your kids haven’t pointed them towards God. Yes, they have made the person’s day a little better, but eternity is a lot longer than one day. It isn’t kind at all to let people continue living not knowing about God and what He wants for them and from them.
Is it easy to raise kind kids? Honestly, it is hard. It takes a lot of time and energy. It is such an essential part of a firm faith foundation though, you just can’t let it slide and hope your child will be “kind enough”. It really is worth your time and effort.