What is kindness? As I sat down to write about kindness, I realized that I didn't really know what kindness is. I think kindness is one of those things that most everyone understands, but the definition isn't quite so easy to pin down. For example, I bet you could give me an example of an act of kindness, but it'd probably be harder for you to give me the definition of kindness. I even looked in the dictionary, but the dictionary itself barely managed to formulate a definition for kindness without using the word "kind" in the definition. But that's actually good news for me because that allows me to give kindness my own definition, which is exactly what I wanted to do.
At Chick-fil-A, we have a value called 2nd Mile Service. It's a concept of not just going the first mile for our guests; we want to go the 2nd Mile. Now what do we mean by that? 2nd Mile Service is when you go the second mile for someone, after already having gone the first. It's when you go above and beyond for a customer. My definition of kindness is that kindness is when you treat others with honor, dignity, and respect. It's combining an others-first attitude with a servant's heart. Kindness is the epitome of the do-to-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-to-you attitude. It's randomly (or purposefully) making someone's day or life better.
I'm sure you can easily think of many numerous acts of kindness that you've witnessed, given, or received in your life. One of my favorite acts of kindness happens when a person who comes through our Drive-Thru pays for the order of the car behind them. I just love it when this happens! It's so cool because the giver always has this big, joyful smile on his or her face. That person truly understands that it is better to give than to receive. And the receiver never fails to have an incredulous smile on his or her face when we tell them that the car in front of them paid for their food. Their unbelieving, awkward smile always turns into a big grin and they can't help but laugh at the kindness of the car in front of them. And sometimes, the receiver of the gift will turn around and pay for the car behind them. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I remember three separate cars paying for each others' food. One car paid for the car behind them, and that car paid for the car behind them, and that car paid for the car behind them! It just kept on going and was such a joy to witness. There is nothing like seeing all those smiles, all that joy, and all that kindness. It was the talk of the day at my Chick-fil-A. And some people still talk about it when the subject arises.
But 2nd Mile Service isn't a quality applicable only to Chick-fil-A employees. You can obtain 2nd Mile Service, too. Think about some ways you can serve those around you. What are some simple things you can do for your family members, your friends, your neighbors, your church family, that would make their day better? Let me give you some examples. Do your chores without your mom having to ask you to. When you clean your side of the bathroom, clean your siblings' too. Buy your friend's order next time you go to your local Chick-fil-A. It can be as big as mowing an elderly neighbor's yard for them for free, or as small as pointing out a stranger's untied shoelace to him. You can give your neighbor free cookies- with no strings attached. You can encourage someone. You can tell someone how much they mean to you. The idea is essentially to do something to lighten someone else's load. To help them out. To make their day. And to put a smile on their face.
Now that isn't always easy. Sometimes, they don't deserve your kindness. And it's really hard to be kind to someone who doesn't deserve it. For example, if your sibling or friend just intentionally did something really mean to you, it's not easy to want to do their laundry for them or pay for their food or to do anything kind for them at all. And here's where another twist on kindness comes in: grace. Now maybe you're wondering how I'm going to connect grace with kindness. Let me show you. Ever heard the saying, "Grace is receiving what you don't deserve, and mercy is when you don't receive what you do deserve"? That's exactly what I'm talking about here. Grace is when you show kindness to someone who doesn't deserve it. Grace is showing kindness by treating others with honor, dignity, and respect... even when they don't deserve it.
Jesus often talked about doing kind things for others when they don't deserve it. In Luke 6:27-31, Jesus says, "'But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.'" And Proverbs 25:21-22 says, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you."
Let me remind you that Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" If we want to obey Jesus, we have to love others as we love ourselves. We have to love others more than we love ourselves. Imagine if we could take the love we have for ourselves and instead use that love for others... Wouldn't that be so incredible?! That would be true selflessness, true humility, true humbleness, true Christ-likeness.
Now you should also remember that love is a verb. The love that Jesus tells us to have for others is Agape Love- an unconditional love. That means we're supposed to love others even when they don't deserve it. Jesus loved us when we didn't deserve it. Romans 5:8 says, "... God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Wow. Now that is true kindness. True grace. True love.
Jesus calls us to have this same love for others. He tells us to go the 2nd Mile for others. He commands us to love others in the same way He did: with kindness and grace. He tells us to show the world His Agape Love. And one way to do that is through kindness. That is why I believe that kindness is one of the most important qualities for servant leaders to display.