Strong and Kind

We can be strong in our message, “but there is never an occasion to be unkind.” -Ravi Zacharias

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A King for Normal People

“In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns. Great commanders have readily won the hearts of their soldiers by sharing their hardships and roughing it as if they belonged to the ranks. The King of Men who was born in Bethlehem, was not exempted in his infancy from the common calamities of the poor, nay, his lot was even worse than theirs. I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Savior; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.” Surely the shepherds, and such as they—the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called him, “one chosen out of the people.” Great Prince of Peace! the manger was thy royal cradle!” -Charles Spurgeon, Twelve Christmas Sermons

Want to End Up Very Mediocre? Then Be Proud!

John Dickson commenting on G.K. Chesterton’s thoughts on pride and humility. “human pride is in fact the engine of mediocrity. It fools us into believing that we have ‘arrived,’ that we are complete, that there is little else to learn. Humility, by contrast, he said, reminds us that we are small and incomplete and so urges us on toward the heights of artistic, scientific and societal endeavour:” John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

BTW NOTE: I think it should be said that pride can make someone mediocre, but it might not. It can also make someone a perfectionist that is always pressing on in search of something better. But this too can become a vice. Humility finds the sweet spot.

Humility: An Essential Ingredient to Learning

“Perhaps the most obvious outcome of being humble is that you will learn, grow and thrive in a way the proud have no hope of doing. The logic is simple: people who imagine that they know most of what is important to know are hermetically sealed from learning new things and receiving constructive criticism. I see this at conferences all the time, whether in business, education or not-for-profit settings. Every conference seems to have a Proud Peter. He’s the guy in your organization who is moderately talented and charming but whose years in the business have created an inflexibility when it comes to learning from others or implementing changes. His natural wit is able to point out the smallest difficulty with a new idea, and so he quickly convinces himself and sometimes others that the old way—his way—is probably best.” -John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

Cultural Observation: Demoralized Language

“Public language has also become demoralized. Google ngrams measure word usage across media. Google scans the contents of books and publications going back decades. You can type in a word and see, over the years, which words have been used more frequently and which less frequently. Over the past few decades there has been a sharp rise in the usage of individualist words and phrases like “self” and “personalized,” “I come first” and “I can do it myself,” and a sharp decline in community words like “community,” “share,” “united,” and “common good.” The use of words having to do with economics and business has increased, while the language of morality and character building is in decline. Usage of words like “character,” “conscience,” and “virtue” all declined over the course of the twentieth century.26Usage of the word “bravery” has declined by 66 percent over the course of the twentieth century. “Gratitude” is down 49 percent. “Humbleness” is down 52 percent and “kindness” is down 56 percent.” -David Brooks, The Road to Character