I have had the worst writer’s block since my Uncle Mrywin died in December. Last week my cousin Chris Schneider sent me a few old family photos I had never seen before. I have looked and looked at them. She is right, I look very much like my grandmother when she was young.
The relationship I had with my Grandmother Esther was a very special one. She was a special person…a soft Christian.
You may not have met many of those. They aren’t showy and are often found in the very back pews in most churches. They don’t attend worship services to be seen, socialize or sing. Sunday was the day God set aside for them to worship and rest. It was a time to humbly meet with their maker in his house to repent for wrongdoings, seek forgiveness, express gratitude for blessings, partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion and assess the needs of other members of their faith family.
Soft Christians were also quiet Christians. They knew their bibles and loved their Lord, but would not dream of ever shouting out a hallelujah in public for fear of being mistaken for a biblical Pharisee. Prayer was private, on your knees and between you and God. To be moved by the Spirit meant seeing human hurt and need and doing something about it. Faith was action. They would stealthily go about life doing good whenever and wherever possible, not needing or taking credit for their good deeds.
These folks would never have stood for anyone teaching a biblical falsehood. They took very seriously God’s admonishment,”that it would be better to have a mill stone tied around your neck and be drowned that to ever teach one of his little ones to error.” While there was still right and wrong, they believed that everyone, including themselves, had fallen short in the eyes of God and had no cause to boast. The, “judge not, less you be judged” was taken every bit as seriously as the drowning thing.
Oh sure, some people would label these folks as meek pushovers. Now there would be a mistake! Mistaking mercy for weakness is always a mistake. Soft Christians are some of the strongest people that you are ever likely to meet. During their lifetimes this imperfect world forced them down onto their knees many times. Too broken and weak to rise again on their own, they sought strength to persevere from a loving God and felt Jesus lighten their burden. They serve God, because they know God.
The grace of God they experienced during those hard times honed their character. They are the ones who have developed the patience of a saint; learned that a kind word can turn away wrath; chosen to turn the other cheek when wronged; forgiven when it was hard and bestowed undeserving mercy.
Day after day these humble, at times invisible, folks do their best to share the love of their savior Jesus Christ with a world that rejects, mocks and tries to humiliate them and Him. Determined to set a good example, these faithful followers of Christ understand that actions speak louder than words. It is what you do, not what you say. True leadership is by example.
When I was writing all of those history lessons on leadership, disguised as letters to a grandson on this blog, I deliberately chose examples of good and bad leaders. All of these men and women had great oratory and leadership skills. However, it was not their learned leadership lessons or excellent communication skills that made them heroes or villains, it was their moral values or lack there of. The historical record provides many examples of famous leaders whose epitaphs should read, “what goes around, comes around.”
As a child when I had been the target of someone utilizing less than moral leadership by example skills that ended in unfairness, physical or emotional hurt, my grandmother would often comfort me. Then, under her breath she’d crossly mutter, “Well, if they aren’t just the limit!”
That is how I feel about our nation’s politicians and media. I think they could all greatly benefit from a good old-fashioned dose of Grandma Esther’s moral lessons.
…truth will out (liars eventually get caught)
…cheaters never prosper (be honest)
…well, if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black (don’t be a hypocrite)
…a kind word can turn away wrath (deescalate)
…leave it go (compromise)
…turn the other cheek (refuse to sink to their level)
…forgive them (forgiveness is good for them and for you)
…move on (accepting that there are things you can change and things you cannot)
…show a little mercy once in a while (everyone makes mistakes so be kind)
…there but by the grace of God go I (have empathy)
…no good deed ever goes unpunished (do good anyway)
…pretty is as pretty does (manners and social skills count)
Soft Christians, like my grandmother, knew that violence begets violence and hate begets more hate and that no good can ever come from that. I cannot count the number of times I was told that two wrongs can never make a right. It never has and it never will ….just saying.