… the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey …
— PROVERBS 16:23-24
Years ago, Chick-Fil-A came under fire from LGBTQ groups for news about its owner’s endorsement of and funding for groups supporting traditional marriage. Shane Windmeyer, founder and Executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for LGBTQ students, had been rallying campus groups to protest Chick-Fil-A when he received a phone call from Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy. Over the course of many months Dan and Shane built a relationship seeking to understand one another’s perspectives.
In an article he wrote for Huffington Post, Shane shared that “Dan, in his heart, is driven by his desire to minister to others and had to choose to continue our relationship throughout this controversy. He had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as “the blessing of growth.” He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well.”
We grow and expand our world when we choose a posture of kindness toward others rather than seeking to correct them.
We grow and expand our world when we choose a posture of kindness toward others rather than seeking to correct them. Proverbs 16:23-24 says “from a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I find it as no surprise that the words “wise” and “kind” are within both of these verses. If we are to engage with people or businesses who hold different cultural beliefs, kindness goes a long way. The old adage rings true: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In the workplace, this could look like taking the initiative to share a meal with someone who holds different views from you, speaking with your neighbors simply to get to know them beyond the views that the political signs in their yard represent. It could look like modeling for your family how to speak respectfully about groups of people who hold different perspectives on cultural issues rather than denigrate them for their beliefs.
Think and pray
The Holy Spirit is able to guide our attitudes, actions, and words as we pray and discern how we can respond with empathy, love, and kindness to build trust with others who hold different beliefs. Ultimately, we look to Jesus as the example of the one who crossed cultures to put on flesh and then chose to hang out with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. The same power in Jesus’ resurrection is available to us to bridge any divide and turn our hearts toward love instead of fear.
Father, help me to love people like You do. Let Your Spirit produce in me the fruit of love, patience, kindness and gentleness. Make me quick to listen and slow to speak, demonstrating value and respect for each person I encounter today. Amen.
This post is part of a longer article that appeared on WorkMatters.org. Jessica Leep Fick is a speaker, writer and author of Beautiful Feet: Unleashing Women to Everyday Witness. For the past 20 years she’s worked with churches and para-church organizations to help Christians authentically share Jesus. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and two sons and can be found kayaking in her free time.