Recently I had lunch with a businessman at a downtown cafe. At the next table sat a family with three pre-schoolers.
Carrying on a conversation was next to impossible as the children screamed, whined, and spilled their food.One of the boys I noticed, struggled to keep from vomiting up his food. The mother, obviously irritated over the situation, took her middle finger and thumped him on the cheek, followed by verbal abuse and harsh looks. The boy’s lip quivered as he choked back the tears.
Amidst this cacophony of confusion, the businessman told of his sense of exhaustion. As his church’s senior elder, he receives scant recognition or appreciation from his spiritual leaders, coupled with a regular flow of letters of criticism from the congregation.
It was apparent that this man’s borderline burnout came not from overwork, but from the lack of affirmation.
As the family finished their meal, the parents sauntered on ahead toward the exit, seemingly impervious to the children, who tagged behind with out-stretched arms, tearfully seeking their parents’ affirmation and embrace.
As I headed for my car I could not help but muse, “A lot of similarities here between this deeply hurt businessman, and these anguished little children.”
Surely we must ask ourselves the question, “How are we treating the weaker among us…those who fail to meet our expectations or standards of excellence? With censoring HARSHNESS, or with compassionate GENTLENESS?
Perhaps we should keep in mind Paul’s instructions,
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Rom. 15:1,2)
We know how Jesus treated little children and how He responded to the less than perfect disciples: With GENTLENESS and COMPASSION.
And it should be our way as well.
My prayer is that you are having a great week!