A Selfish Sort of Kindness

Recently came across a scripture that I’ve somehow managed to overlook for decades. It got me thinking about the personal benefits of heromaking. Think of it as a selfish sort of kindness (selfish in a good way).

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Proverbs 11:17 ESV

What you sow, you reap! Especially true for leaders.

I’ve occasionally watched leaders destroy what they hoped to build by abusing the people they should have blessed. On the other end of the pendulum are those who achieve their aims by building up those around them. The “magicians” are those who help people accomplish more than they believe possible. These are the people who see the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit in the aspirations of others.

Showcasing God’s Masterpiece

Cooperation with the Creator in supporting his masterpieces is pretty simple. You just recognize and bless sometimes under-developed abilities in the people you lead. Enshrine whatever is done to further the kingdom, no matter if it’s wonderful or not. Excellence is not perfection.

Coming back to the verse from Proverbs, I wonder if Paul was up to more than simple thank-yous in Romans 16. He showered praise on the people who did what he encourages in the last few verses of chapter 15. You get more of whatever you bless.

What was penned as an open letter to hundreds made heroes of 27 people and at least one house church. Do you think others caught Paul’s enthusiastic suggestion that what these people did was to be emulated?

Using the Coconut Wireless

As a pastor I constantly kept my ears open to what people in Hawaii call the “coconut wireless” for any hint of behavior that would expand the kingdom. Whatever I heard that was “of good report” would find its way into my sermons. I made heroes of people for trying. You know what? The more that people heard they made me happy, the harder they tried in the future. Oh, and the rest of the crowd would consider jumping into the act. We always had a strong supply of people putting their hand to the plow of ministry.

The lessons here are that people should get good mention for trying. There should be little risk associated with less-than-stellar performance (this from a pastor who learned the benefit of letting people play in a worship band with their instrument unplugged until they got better). And there should be ample celebration of those who do well. Praise and heromaking are great recruiting tools.

Back to Proverbs, a man who is kind truly benefits himself—and those around. It is a selfish sort of kindness.

So, what do you think? Am I too quick to praise others? Are you too slow? Do you have a good story to tell about this principle in real-time? We’d be interested in your thoughts in the comments box below?

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