Being kind is not my strength. In forty years of public ministry, it’s hard to remember anyone ever complimenting me for being kind. My wife normally gets those accolades! However, kindness is a Christian virtue – a part of God’s character we are mandated to emulate. It’s definitely a trait for me to work on.

The Bible calls on us to “consider God’s kindness” (Rom. 11:22), describes Jesus’s incarnational presence as “the kindness of God” (Tit. 3:4), and reminds us “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Kindness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and an aspirational virtue for believers (2 Cor. 6:6; Col 3:12). The practical nature of kindness is illustrated when, in responding to castaways from a shipwreck, “local people showed us extraordinary kindness. They lit a fire and took us all in…” (Acts 28:2). Kindness is rooted in God’s character, demonstrated by God’s presence, and is a discipleship quality which results in meeting the needs of other people.

This theme is on my mind this week because of how kind many people have been to me in the past few days. My appointment as President-Elect of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention occasioned hundreds of emails, text messages, and phone calls – many from people I have never met – who wanted me to know they are praying for me and my family, renewing their passion for cooperative work across our denomination, and ready to help me in whatever ways are needed. More personally, the SBC EC and Gateway teams have gone out of their way to care for us in ways we do not deserve, but definitely appreciate!

And, in a humbling way, some brothers who are not usually my fans have reached out with encouragement, promises to pray, and sincere comments about their desire for my overall success in leading greater effectiveness in our shared work. Those comments remind me even critics can be kind when they focus on issues rather than individuals. We will always have robust debate on some issues, but since we are going to heaven together, we should be kind along the way. That has been demonstrated to me this week.

I have tried to respond with gratitude to every recent message, but if I missed yours – thank you for your kindness. May God enhance this virtue in our lives as we emulate God’s kindness toward us and express it in concrete ways toward others.