Develop the strength of gentleness
I’m going to start out today with a quiz. This is going to sound very male, but there is a point to it. It will make sense in a moment
Do you have a favorite sports team?
Do you have a shirt, hat, scarf, socks or foam finger to indicate your allegiance to your team?
Have you ever yelled at the referee to voice your disapproval of a call made against your team?
Do you believe that yelling at that referee or umpire makes a difference even though you are yelling at a television set and the game is being played two thousand miles away and you’re watching the game on your DVR?
If you answered yes to any of these questions than you are a Sportsman.
When something breaks in your house, do you first attempt to fix it yourself?
Do you have a workbench and more than one tool box? Have you ever had a conversation with your wife about not putting her junk on your workbench?
Do you receive monthly magazines from Home Depot, Dixieline or Harbor Freight?
When your dishwasher stops working do you get on youtube to figure out how you can fix it yourself?
Have you ever spent an afternoon swearing at your dishwasher from inside your dishwasher?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you are a Handyman.
Do you define yourself by your work?
Do you check your email first thing when you get up and last thing before you fall asleep?
Do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking of what you need to do in the office the next day?
Bonus question. When someone asks you if you have ever considered cutting out coffee your response is, “I could stop at any time but I’m not a quitter.”
If you answered yes to any of these questions that makes you a businessman
Do you open the door for any woman?
Do you offer your wife or date your coat when she’s cold?
Do you hold the umbrella over the woman you are walking with?
Does your local florist know your name?
When you are in the check out line and there is a woman with a few items do you let her go in front of you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions that makes you a Gentleman.
Today we are talking about gentleness. I found a definition of what a gentlemen is this last week. Perhaps this would be a good place to start.
The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.
– John Walter Wayland
That’s a good definition of a gentleman. Do you know where I found it. It’s the creed of a very famous college fraternity. SAE. You have to memorize the true gentlemen to join. Do you think those words define men in our culture? Heck, they don’t even define the men who memorize the words in that fraternity. Here’s some other facts I found about that particular fraternity. It’s been dubbed the “deadliest fraternity” by Bloomberg in 2013 because of all the party deaths that happened in it. It’s also renown for the amount of sexual assault that has come from it.
Most men would not be considered gentle. They are businessmen, handymen, angry men, driven men, competitive men. They yell to get the best out of their players. They swear when things don’t go well at work. They are angry when kids don’t do what they are supposed to. But gentle-men?
Generally speaking, this is a trait that women are way better at. Gentleness may not be high on your list of life goals, but gentleness may be the best way to reach your most important life goals. Gentleness is a means to success in the areas of your life that are most important to you.
Gentleness can help you develop a relationship with your child that will last
Gentleness can be the foundation for a long and lasting marriage
Gentleness can help you develop a reputation as a leader at work
I believe that gentleness can be a means to great strength in our life in the areas that matter most.
1) Be a gentle listener
In 1 Kings 19:9 God comes to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9-13
One of our problems is that we only listen to the loud. (Bang on the trash can lid) This is what gets our attention.
I got fired
My boyfriend broke up with me
My parents got divorced
My transmission is going to cost me $3500
My kid is smoking weed
We listen to the loud. Money is loud. Breakups are loud. Issues are loud. Addictions are loud.
Mark Batterson put it like this. “God has an outside voice and he’s not afraid to use it.”
But we would be so much better off if we learned to listen to the gentle whisper of God.
When big loud things happen to us this is what God is saying above the noise
You’re in trouble, turn to me
You made a mistake. Come back and I’ll forgive you
You got yourself trapped. I can get out out of there.
Here are the kind of things that God says in a whisper
If you follow me I’ll help you find the way
If you listen, I’ll keep you from hurting yourself
If you draw close to me I’ll protect you
The whisper of God is usually a nudge. A subtle warning. It’s the gentle direction of God speaking into your life. The loud noise is usually the crash because you didn’t listen to the whisper.
It’s not just God we need to gently listen to. It’s the people close to us that we love.
I’m afraid my kid doesn’t like me anymore
I don’t think anyone believes in me
I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to get into a good college
I think I’m failing as a parent
I’m feeling insecure about my body
I’m not sure I want to keep doing this job
Those are whispers. They aren’t loud. To hear them you have to listen gently.
Let me give you one more way to bring gentleness into your life
2) Be a gentle answerer
Let me read you some great verses about gentleness
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Proverbs 25:15
Unfortunately, this is not the direction culture is going. We aren’t good at gentle.
Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death 19 is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Proverbs 26:18,19
How often do we have to explain ourselves with this line. “I was only joking.” I don’t really think I fall in the category of deceiving my neighbor, but I’ve used that last line plenty. Sarcasm can also hit that mark. It almost doesn’t matter what we say. We can say anything as long as it’s sarcastic
That’s really helpful
You did such a great job.
You’re so smart. Einstein.
I love this line from Brian Regan. They always say that Albert Einstein was a genius. Then how come when anyone ever calls you that, it’s an insult? ‘You don’t know where you parked the car? Good job, Einstein.’ I don’t think we’re honoring that man properly by using his name in vain in parking lots.
Is there a connection between gentleness and stress? I more stressed and anxious I am the less gentle I respond
A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a “Fault” box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: “leaving the jelly top off the jar,” “wet towels on the shower floor,” “dirty socks not in hamper,” on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, “I love you!”
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Let me give you an example of not gentleness. I had some checks and cash I needed to deposit into my account so I ran to the ATM. First I deposited the cash. $400 in one hundred dollar bills. I start with the cash because I’m paranoid that someone is going to mug me at the Vons on the corner of Scripps Ranch Blvd at 4:00 in the afternoon. Then I put in the checks. After the machine takes all of the checks and the little door closes all of a sudden the screen goes blank. Nothing. For 15 minutes. Finally it reboots and this message comes on the screen. This ATM out of order. I’ve got my phone so I quickly call my bank. Naturally, the number doesn’t patch me through to a person. I have to press 35 different buttons to try to to a human. Finally a resort to just yelling into my phone over and over “Customer service. CUSTOMER SERVICE.” I finally get to a person. Yeah! Of course it’s not the right person. They need to transfer me. Any guesses what happened next. They hung up on me. So I call again. Hung up on again. The third time I call I punch up numbers to talk to someone in lost credit cards. I know someone will be there. She tells me that the office I need to speak to closed 10 minutes ago and I’ll have to call and make a claim tomorrow.
What do you do in a case like that. Let me tell you what not to do. It doesn’t help to yell at the customer service person in the lost credit card department. Wouldn’t it be great to know just the right thing to do in that moment.
Let me give you another moment from my life in the last several months. Last Tuesday I had to have my front windshield replaced in my mini van. Why you ask. Was it a rock? No. Vandalism? No. Did a tree limb fall on it? No. My daughter was sitting in the front seat of the van with her feet up on the dash and she stretched out her legs and cracked the glass. I’m not making this stuff up. How do you respond to your daughter in that situation.