Chrestotes.

I am a Follower of Jesus.

Jesus calls me to live in Him and His truth. Jesus calls me to show the world that He is the message of Hope. Jesus calls me to a life of fruitfulness. As a Follower of my Jesus, my life should showcase the Fruits of the Spirit to those around me.

Here are a couple scriptures to think about. . .

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:5b

Without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:8

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What are the fruits that I should be bearing/showing if I want to be a Follower of Jesus?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Integrity), Faithfulness, Meekness (Humility), and Self-Control.

I live in the real world. So do you. When I think about this Checklist titled “Fruits of the Spirit,” I cringe just a little bit. That’s a lot. Some days, especially, it feels overwhelming. I get so busy, so frustrated, so impatient, so snippy, so tired.

As Followers of Jesus we WANT to follow His Word, so – you might be thinking  – “How can I make this Fruit-Bearing seem more manageable?”      I am so glad you asked! 😉

Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

Chrestotes

Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness.

So, what exactly is kindness?

If you check any dictionary, it will state something like this for kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

I found a great definition for kindness from Tim Keller @ J.D. Greer Ministries (https://jdgreear.com/blog/kellers-definitions-of-the-fruit-in-galatians-5/).

(Warning: It’s pretty radical, but it got me to thinking. . .)

What Kindness Is

Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security

What Kindness Isn’t

Envy. Unable to rejoice in other’s joy.

What Kindness Morphs Into

Manipulative good deeds. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness.

If our world needs anything these days, it would be kindness.

I must admit for myself that I get so wrapped up in my own world & schedule that I forget to be kind. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go around being “mean” or “rude.” I definitely don’t put much effort into being “kind,” however.

I don’t for a moment think that mediocre kindness is what Christ has called us – His Followers – to.

It’s time I start being more aware of the world around me. It’s time I start realizing that I might be the only picture of Jesus some people see. It’s time I start owning up to being a Follower of Jesus.

I should be bearing the Fruit of Kindness at a much quicker rate than I am currently.

I must not mask kindness by doing things just for praise. That’s not true kindness.

I must not be kind just to make myself feel better. That is selfish.

Instead . . .

I must be secure in who I am & what I have in order to treat others with genuine kindness in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

I must guard my heart from selfishness and discontentment. Instead of envying others, I should work to rejoice in their blessings and triumphs!

I must look for ways to practice kindness. Every day.

Now, listen — In part of my desire to blog about authentic living, I promise that I practice what I write about. The past two weeks my Bible Study ladies & I practiced thankfulness, this week we are practicing kindness. Each day we are endeavoring to go out of our way – and purposefully look for – an opportunity to bless someone with an act of kindness. We then keep each other accountable by sharing in our group chat!

Most of my acts of kindness this week have been small. Doesn’t matter. Purposefully looking for a way to be kind to others has helped me be more aware of the needs around me and the opportunities I usually pass up.

People sometimes need a smile, a note, a hug, a helping hand, a visit, a gift. . . a friend!

Sometimes this looks like putting my husband’s laundry away. Sometimes this looks like helping a coworker out with a task that needs accomplished. Sometimes this looks like gathering all the carts in the parking lot for the cashier at the Dollar Tree who looks incredibly busy and flustered.

Find a way to be kind. Get out of your comfort zone.

I challenge you to join me in this endeavor! One purposeful act of kindness a day – for at least a week.

I truly think that working on showing kindness each day will help us toward the end goal.

What is that end goal, again?

Following Jesus and His teachings. Living a Spirit-filled life. Bearing fruit.

Kindness is a lifestyle, friends.

May we work on kindness, practice kindness, and become kindness.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

Seven ways to make your listening skills better.

Listening is a skill many of us need to brush up on. Myself included. Just this week, I was confronted with the criticism that sometimes I don’t put as much effort into listening to those around me as I should.

Ouch. That hurt.

However, the more I look into that criticism, I realize that it was definitely of the constructive type. Remember that blog post from last week? Well, it’s time for me to practice what I preach. I’ve evaluated. And, I see listening skills that need some work. Are my listening skills better than they were 3 years ago? You bet. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, though.

Building authentic relationships won’t happen if we don’t take the time to listen to those we care about.

I decided a blog post to keep myself accountable was in order. And, I’m taking a venture that I’m not the only one who needs to work on listening skills. . .

  1. Pick up on the hint & shut up.

    Social cues, people. Especially to those extroverted people like myself. We like to hear ourselves speak. We enjoy being in charge of a conversation. However, we should stop talking long enough to notice that other humans use the English language, too. Ok? We should be aware enough of what’s going on to know when our spouse, friend, coworker, or acquaintance needs to share something with us. It might be something small – a quick idea or a passing thought. Yet, it might be something deep and profound, and the speaker has chosen you (or me) to be the one they speak to. Own up to their expectation of you. You are the one they need to listen to them. Right there. Right then. Stop talking. Let other people carry the conversation sometimes. Let other people give their opinions. Give other people enough time to share their thoughts, too. Be aware. Shut your mouth.

  2. Make eye contact.

    When someone is talking to you, make eye contact. Not in an awkward way, of course. Just simply shift your attention to the person speaking. This affirms the speaker, showing that what they have to say is important to you. This seems like something small, but I know how annoyed I get when I’m trying to share an opinion and the person I’m talking to drifts off into outer-space or sinks into the abyss of the computer screen sitting in front of them. Don’t do that to people. Be better than that.

  3. Put aside all distractions.

    Earnest Hemingway put it like this: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Give the person talking to you the respect they deserve. We live in such a demanding and distracting time. There’s always someone to text, a call to make, a social media account to keep up with, or something to accomplish. Life isn’t about things, though. It’s about people. Pay attention when those people have something to say to you. Shut your phone off, clear your head, and focus.

  4. Get rid of pre-conceived notions or ideas.

    Whenever someone starts sharing, our mind usually starts racing. In fact, sometimes my mind is racing about the situation BEFORE the person starts sharing about it. Ooops! Let’s face it. . .  We are all opinionated people. We draw conclusions from one side of the story before we hear the other. We see the wrong in others’ lives before we see our own. We have 10 good solutions to someone else’s problem. Back up. Stop. Erase your notions, ideas, opinions, and solutions out of your head. Give the person talking the decency to solicit an unbiased opinion from you. Listen closely for their feelings, side of the story, opinions, etc.

  5. Gauge the emotional pulse.

    The emotional state of the speaker will determine your response. If they seem troubled, a blunt answer might not be best. If they seem broken, a hug might be in order. If they seem insecure, some sincere compliments might be the appropriate reply. Tune in. Pick up on the signals. Be kind. Saying the right thing at the wrong time could very possibly be the wrong thing to do.

  6. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for.

    Yikes. That’s hard. I like to fix problems. Give my opinions. Offer solutions. Sometimes, though, that’s just not what’s needed. If they ask, fire away. If they don’t, wait patiently. You and I both know how irritating it is to get advice you did NOT want.

  7. Silence is acceptable.

    Pretty self-explanatory, I think. You can care for your family and friends by simply letting them know that you are there for them.  Cheer them on – pray for them – send them a card or a gift. Don’t overdo the talking – talking’s overrated.

I hope these seven ways challenge you like they are currently challenging me. I want to love those around me and deepen my friendships by brushing up on my listening skills – talking less and caring more. 

 

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash