“Mrs. Yoder, you have tears in your eyes,” my 4th grade students said.
“Yes, they are happy tears,” I said. “You guys made my heart happy” and I made a little symbol with my hands over my heart.
“You guys are going to change the world,” I said.
A Lesson on Kindness
The dialogue happened at the end of a Kindness lesson I taught to 4th graders in my role as an elementary school counselor. Creating a Kindness Wall in the main school hallway was the activity my co-worker and I planned for the monthly lesson we taught to students at each grade level from Kindergarten to 4th grade.
Students wrote on a post-it note anything they wanted to say about kindness. Then each student placed their note on the wall.
Some wrote why kindness is important. Others wrote ways they can be kind. Still others wrote about their hopes and dreams regarding kindness.
Wise for Their Years
“I hope that whites won’t hate blacks,” one boy of color wrote.
“When we are kind to someone, it changes them,” another student said
The discussion the kids had during the lesson changed me, too. They had such insight into the human condition and empathy for one another. Even one of the toughest 4th grade boys shared how people hurt and we never know what’s going on inside of them.
Out of the mouths of babes.
The video below is what the 4th graders watched to spark discussion.
The experience reminded me how far we adults have come from modeling true kindness and compassion as humans.
I think often, as Christians, we innately believe we have the market on kindness because the Author of kindness, the Holy Spirit, lives inside those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control,” Galatians 5:22-23 says.
Yet, I wonder if we practice it as much as children expect and our Heavenly Father desires. Imagine if we, the children of God, truly practiced kindness, love, empathy, and compassion as the Holy Spirit is capable to equip us.
If we did, I believe we’d transform the world.
What We Christians Can Learn
Instead, we Christians often don’t display kindness very well.
I don’t think I need to share examples.
Working in a secular environment exposes me to humanity’s goodness. Humans are God’s image bearers, even if Christ doesn’t reside in us. I’m inspired, often, when I see non-believers care for one another and treat each other well. It often seems so uncomplicated and natural.
And I’m jealous for God’s glory that the best of humanity comes from those who dwell with Him and Him in us. If only we’d be less complicated as Christians and let God’s living Word, the Bible, transform us and allow Christ, the Word, to live out the fullness of His goodness in our spirit, actions, and words.
If we did this, sow different our broken world would be. How drawn to Christ unbelievers would be. And how beautiful the Church would be, to the glory of God.
I’m challenged to be more like my students, whose faith and goodness reflect what Jesus asks of us, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 8:3.
Will you join me in displaying more human kindness transformed by the Holy Spirit?
Just image the beauty His presence would be in the world.