In 1969, country singer Glen Campbell released a hit single called "Try a Little Kindness." The catchy chorus urged, "You've got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness, Yes shine your light for everyone to see. And if you'll try a little kindness and you'll overlook the blindness, Of the narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets."
The Apostle Paul might agree with Glen Campbell. Ephesians 4:32 reads, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Be kind . . . or, perhaps, try a little kindness.
In fact, sometimes just a little kindness goes a long way. As I was reflecting on verse 32, from out of nowhere a memory came to me of an experience I had in New York City over thirty years ago. I was in grad school at the time, traveling back to Massachusetts after visiting my family in California. Because I had little money, I used the cheapest way to get to Boston from Los Angeles. In those days, that meant flying to New York City and then taking the Greyhound bus from Port Authority to South Station in Boston.
On this particular occasion, my flight to New York had been delayed by bad weather, so I didn't get to the city until late evening. I was exhausted and discouraged by the prospect of five-hour, late night bus ride to Boston. Plus, I was missing my family and feeling pretty depressed about my sorry life.
Before catching the bus, I needed to get something to eat, so I stopped into a burger joint. This was in New York, of course, so the restaurant was jammed and noisy. I waited for a long time until I was finally able to plop down in a small booth. I noticed that the only waitress in the place, a black woman about sixty, was rushing around like crazy. Given how hungry I was, I silently rebuked myself for picking this place. I figured I'd have to wait forever before being served.
But, to my surprise, the waitress hurried over to my table. She stopped for a second to look closely at me. "Sugar," she said, "you look pretty down. Can I help you feel better? What can I get for you?" Now, I don't usually like to be called "Sugar," but in this case, that name tasted sweet. Somebody had noticed me. Somebody had seen me. Somebody was being kind to me, even in a crowded burger joint in New York City.
I ordered my dinner, feeling strangely better about life. Throughout the meal, my angelic waitress kept checking on me, saying things like, "You doing okay, honey?" She wanted to know why I was in the city and so I described my long day of travel. "Sounds awful," she said. When it was time for me to go, I asked for my check. "You have a safe trip, now, sugar. And know that things will get better. God bless."
For some reason, when she told me things would get better, I believed her. And, indeed, God had already blessed me through her, through her "little kindness."
Think and Pray
When have you experienced exceptional kindness? When have you been particularly kind to someone? Are there ways you could be kind to the people in your life today?
Gracious God, may I see the people I work with so that I might be kind to them. May I see my wife and my children, my neighbors and friends. Help me, Lord, to be kind to those whom I serve at work as well as those who serve me through their work. By the help of your Spirit, may I be kind today. Amen.
Published by The High Calling. Theology of Work Project Online Materials by The High Calling are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Mark D. Roberts is the Executive Director of Fuller's Max De Pree Center for Leadership. He is the principal writer of the Life for Leaders daily devotional. Emailed each morning to over 7,000 subscribers, Life for Leaders serves leaders in all sectors of life by helping them go deeper in relationship with God as they grow in a biblical understanding of their work.