Lead with Kindness
Our society has become increasingly unkind, and I'm not just talking about gun violence and mass shootings. I believe these are just the tip of a much bigger iceberg of anger and disrespect and hatred. Beneath the surface, that iceberg is made up of millions of small interactions that have the potential to make the world better or worse.
A brief conversation at the grocery store made me more aware of this reality. During the pandemic, my wife and I discovered the safety of curbside delivery, and we're still enjoying the convenience that it offers. One particular day, the store employee told me that she was trying to arrange the bags so they wouldn’t tip over during my trip home. I simply said, "Thanks. I'm sure you're doing your best." She replied, "I wish everyone believed that." She then told me about irate customers who would lash out if she didn't load their cars perfectly. I thanked her again, and drove away feeling sorry for this hard-working, underpaid, and certainly under-appreciated human being.
I could stop here, and the moral would be to obey the golden rule and "do unto others…" But I think there's a more important leadership lesson. Leaders are culture-shapers. Your leadership style will shape the culture within your church or ministry and beyond. So do you lead with kindness? It is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5.
What would leading with kindness look like? It should be seen in the words and tone of voice used to interact with staff, church members, and people in the community. In public speaking (preaching and other), it should be evident in your descriptions of people who are not in room. Are you preparing your church to go into battle or to win with love?
It is interesting that kindness is an essential characteristic of a Christ-follower, but we don't typically include it on the lists of essential leadership attributes. In fact, our stereotypes are that "kind" leaders are doormats who lack drive, are easily run over, and have no vision. The danger of this stereotype is that it can become prescriptive, encouraging leaders to not be "weak." I still believe that leaders need to push themselves and their organizations to be their best. But today, I'd take a little less drive in exchange for an abundance of kindness.