The Lasting Impact of Gentleness
As we near the end of this series, The 9 Now, I hope you have been encouraged, inspired, and challenged on how your intentional decisions to reject the desires of the flesh and walk by the Spirit can have a lasting impact on yourself and others.
These next two fruits have a special place in my heart as they show our true desire to move from talking or believing to doing.
The Day Started Like Any Other
About a year ago my youngest son was just beginning to drive. In the state of Iowa, you can get a learners permit at 14 ½ and drive to school on a restricted route. This is beneficial for children who live on farms as well as those who are several miles from the school, such as my son. In order for you to get the full effect of this story, you must know I have not always been the gentlest person. Much has changed over the years for me, but at times, my flesh does get the best of me and unfortunately, my children know this better than anyone. So, as I explain what occurred next, keep this in mind, because I assure you it was ringing through the mind of my then 15-year-old son.
It was about 7:25am and my son took off for school. In the garage my truck parks right next to his car, so he has to come in and go out at a slight angle. That morning, I worked from home and had just hung up from a conference call. He came in to say goodbye and I told him to have a great day. Moments later, I heard a loud crunching sound coming from the garage. Immediately I thought, “he just hit my truck”. So I went to prayer. This was clearly the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, because my flesh would have hustled to the garage, words-a-flying.
My Response Will Forever Impact Him
As I sat there and prayed, I heard the Spirit lead me with, whatever you do at this moment, he will hold onto for years. What message would I send if I let him believe the property (truck) was more important than he was? If I were to yell at him, he would believe his mistakes were unacceptable and any lesson to be learned was not worth the wrath which followed. However, if I responded in gentleness, this would shape, mold, and encourage him to respond in a similar way one day.
It was time to get up and assess the situation. As I opened the door to the garage, I saw a young man clearly upset and disappointed. He was outside the car, which he clearly had pulled forward. At this time, I was not certain where the damage was, but I did not care, I had something else on my mind. I approached him, put my hands on his shoulders and said “are you OK?”. He was. I then told him I was not upset; only grateful he was OK. I explained, accidents happen and we can learn from them, make adjustments, and make sure they do not define who we are. I communicated to him “You are not a failure because you made a mistake. Right now, it is important you back out of the garage and drive yourself to school.” While reluctant, he agreed to drive to school. But first we would assess the damage. I realized the truck was not what was hit, it was the track to the garage door, which he hit with his mirror. Off to school he went.
After School Surprise
As I returned to work and he school, I felt there was still something more I could do to reinforce the gentle behavior I wanted him to know. I decided I would write a note and put in his car so he could see it before coming home. Knowing him, he played this moment over and over in his mind throughout the day. I wanted the first thought he had once returning to the car to be one of encouragement.
When he got home he explained my responses, both in the morning as well as with the letter, were not what he originally expected. The gentleness I gave him was so appreciated. He felt loved and ok to make mistakes. I embraced him with a hug, a smile, and the assurance this all was OK and he gave me a sense of assurance that this act of gentleness would stay with him for years to come.
Since then, I have prayed for God to strengthen me to respond in similar way when the opportunities come up. I made a choice to do the following:
- Stop, choose my response (Flesh or Spirit)
- Correct with Gentleness
- Encourage, Inspire, or Challenge to leave a life-long impact.
It is important to remember impatient responses will destroy the opportunity and leave a different kind of life-long impact. You may have heard the story of the little boy who hurt another child’s feelings. His grandfather wanted to demonstrate the lasting impact words can have, so he told his grandson to go drive a few nails into the fence. Eagerly the little boy did. Afterwards the grandfather instructed him to pull the nails and asked, “What do you see?” and the young man responded, “Marks.” Words are like “marks” to the wood in this illustration. You can pull out the nails (say sorry), you can add wood putty (do nice things), but you can never repair the wood to its original state. The wood is forever changed, just as people are. We must choose our words wisely. We must respond with Gentleness.
So what about you?
Do you have a story or example of where you responded with gentleness? Perhaps you have some tips, scriptures, or quotes which keep you focused on how you will respond, rather than how you want to? If so, I encourage you to share a comment, quote, or scripture to help others be encouraged today.
The final fruit in this series is coming next week and will be on Self-Control, stay tuned.
Chris Hewitt, the WOE Writer