Why We Exchange Niceness for Kindness

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Here’s the problem, though. Niceness and kindness aren’t interchangeable. Nice is cheap. It costs you nothing. Nice avoids tension and always strokes your ego, even if Ray Charles could see you’re wrong.

Kindness, however, tells you what you need to hear. It won’t stroke your ego because you’re awesome. Kindness loves you too much for that.

Yesterday Frank Powell wrote the above quote in”8 Christian Values that Aren’t Really Christian”  And pointed out a very important lesson about ministry as well as life.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is confront someone

Now this doesn’t mean confrontation is always loving (note the word SOMETIMES).  In my experience 85% of ministry drama can be dealt with using loving and wise communication.  However there will always be that other 15% that requires confrontation.

Powell points out in those situations we have a choice between being Nice, or being Kind

  1. Niceness is interested in defusing the situation, and making the person feel better
  2. Kindness is interested in helping the person grow by pointing out a weakness, or mistake they have overlooked

Though in the short-term Niceness looks better, its actually incredibly unloving because it allows a problem the person doesn’t recognize (or refuses to recognize) to continue.

After a two-week stay in the States I returned with what’s affectionately called “American weight.”  Some Vincentians told me I actually lost weight after getting back (being nice) but the thing is their niceness didn’t change the fact that my belly was big.

Thankfully I had the brutal honesty of pictures from Disney World

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This picture in particular (and others from Disney World) revealed to me no matter how many Vincy’s are nice and tell me I’m in shape, the massive belly is still there.  And its a friendly reminder that my eating habits need to change.

  • it gets me up at 5:30 in the morning for my 6:00 AM run
  • forces me to start a strength-training program
  • helps trade junk food for vegetables
  • And keeps me from eating all the sweeties I’m supposed to be giving children

In a sense confrontation done in love is like that picture that reveals a side of the person they don’t want to see so that they can change it.

And in the long run that’s a lot more loving than acting like the American weight isn’t there.

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