Years ago there was a family in our church who were very needy. They seemed to have cognitive difficulties which made it difficult to gain and keep a job. These cognitive issues led to social awkwardness and even hygiene issues. One day the woman needed a ride to an appointment. She lived on the bus route so she could have gotten there on her own. I believe what the Lord asked me to do in giving her a ride was more important in my spiritual growth than in just getting her to the appointment. This need came during a time when I had been praying every day for the Lord to develop kindness in me. I wanted to grow in “the big 5” of Colossians 3:12, “ Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” These traits were weak in my life, so I’d been asking (and still ask) the Holy Spirit to grow them in me. This was a season when I was concentrating on kindness. I had a chat with the Lord where I said “I don’t want to give her a ride.” Never mind that my schedule was free. Never mind I have a somewhat reliable vehicle. Never mind that she had a need I could fulfill. The Lord reminded me that I had been praying He would grow kindness in me. Kindness can only grow as we take opportunities presented to us to show acts of kindness. It doesn’t grow in intellectual reasoning without action.
Part of the meaning of the Greek word translated kindness is “grace which pervades the whole nature mellowing all which would be harsh or austere.” (Zodhiates) It was harsh of me to want to deny this woman a ride. God did mellow me and give me his grace, so I was able to give her a ride. I don’t remember much about the outcome, but I do remember what vehicle I was driving and how the Lord worked on my heart. Paul spoke of his mandate in 2 Corinthians 12. “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me…Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you.” (verses 15 & 19b) I read that in my Bible reading this morning and was challenged. Am I willing to pour myself out to strengthen another?
I think this is also the mandate of mentors. Pour yourself out in kindness to strengthen the mentee. “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9, 10) Everyone is just waiting for mercy and kindness to be shown to them. Showing kindness is in such contrast to all that is dividing our country in hatred these days. Ephesians 4: 32 says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” If a mentor can show kindness, that is in stark contrast to the way the world treats us.
Of course, true kindness can only be shown as the Holy Spirit grows the fruit of kindness in us. 2 Corinthians 6:6 says, “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.” This Fruit of the Spirit is what proves to the world that we are followers of Jesus. It is the evidence of God’s power working in us. A mentee needs encouragement by the kindness shown from a mentor. This kindness is often what strengthens and encourages a mentee to grow and change and take on the challenges in life.
Kindness is a really big deal. No one is willing to listen to your opinions unless you’ve first treated them with kindness. I don’t know what my act of kindness did for this woman who needed the ride. I do know it changed my perspective to look for more ways to show kindness. God was answering my prayers to grow the fruit of kindness by giving me opportunities all around. This is the mentor’s mandate: show kindness.