The Secret Power of Kindness
An Interview with Greg Atkinson
Best-selling author, speaker, pastor, coach and consultant Greg Atkinson has just released a new book about kindness. In The Secret Power of Kindness: 10 Keys to Unlocking Your Capacity to Change the World, Atkinson challenges readers to overcome unforgiveness and division by cultivating inner qualities of kindness toward self and others.
“How you deal with the trauma and pain in your life—including how you respond to it—will shape your life presently and in the future,” said Atkinson. “The bottom line is that you have a choice— you can become bitter or better. Kindness is the remedy, and forgiveness is the antidote.”
Each chapter of The Secret Power of Kindness is dedicated to a different key of kindness, beginning with forgiveness and followed by generosity, composure, acceptance, rest, wisdom, empathy, patience, love, and unity. Atkinson encourages readers to embrace each to be part of a movement to change the world and make it a better place.
An Excerpt from The Secret Power of Kindness
The following is an excerpt from the Preface to The Secret Power of Kindness…
“Imagine a world where everyone is kind to one another.
Don’t we all agree that the world needs more kindness? Not only does the world need more kindness, but the world would be a better place if we each displayed kindness in our daily lives.
As Christians, we believe that kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit that flows out of us naturally when we are abiding in Christ. The more time you spend with Jesus, the kinder you will be.
But kindness is also a choice that comes out of a soul at peace with itself, a soul that feels free.
Whereas we would imagine that Christians should be the kindest people on earth, given our faith in Christ’s promise and our commitment to his way of life, most of us know that this is not the case. In fact, sometimes, it seems that we struggle more than others to show kindness, especially when our most beloved traditions or opinions are at stake.
But why? What prevents us from behaving kindly toward others? Why is it so hard for us to exude the simple acts of kindness that bind all of us closer as fellow human beings?
As humans, Christians too, sometimes our hearts can get locked into places of pain and fear caused by our experiences with the world, misunderstandings about God, or our own unreasonable expectations of ourselves. Once we become enmeshed in misconceptions, anger, pain, or perfectionism, it can become very hard to see ourselves kindly, let alone emit kindness to the world. This can be the case even for the most ardent of Christians.
We live in a complicated world. People today face a myriad of problems. Yet, we know that kindness can be the powerful force we need to make positive change in our world, to unlock anger and bitterness, heal divisions, forge relationships, and foster respect. Think about it. Simply choosing to be kind to someone could be the healing balm that he or she needs that day. Have you ever smiled at a waiter or a cashier who looked beyond stressed or simply blue, and then saw them suddenly light up? Kindness is a secret weapon. It disarms people and breaks down their defensive walls. Kindness unlocks kindness. Complimenting people, commending people, affirming people, and thanking people can make all the difference in their day, their attitude, and in their life and yours.
Kindness changes the way we look at people. To cultivate kindness within ourselves not only helps us to be kind to others but gives us a fresher, easier perspective on life, one that is filled with grace, love, and hope. You never know the impact you may have on an individual simply by practicing the power of kindness.
I’ve seen many wounded, bitter people who have grown so mean, nasty, and hateful that you couldn’t help but see the prison walls that they had built up around their lives. Kindness begins to flow when we free ourselves and others from the walls and fences that divide and confine us.”
Q&A with Dwayne Moore
Dwayne: Why did you feel the need to write a book about kindness?
Greg: If you turn on the news or open your social media feed, you’ll quickly see that there is a lack of kindness in our world. I think everyone can agree the world would be a better place if we each displayed kindness in our daily lives.
For Christians, this idea of kindness is even more important. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit that should flow out of us naturally when we are abiding in Christ, but even in the Church it seems we sometimes struggle more than others to show kindness, especially when our most beloved traditions or opinions are at stake. I have learned that kindness not only grows the more time you spend with Jesus, but it is also a choice that comes out of a soul at peace with itself, a soul that feels free.
Kindness changes the way we look at people. To cultivate kindness within ourselves not only helps us to be kind to others but gives us a fresher, easier perspective on life, one that is filled with grace, love, and hope. This book is a way for me to share about my own experiences – some of which have been very painful – to hopefully provide wisdom and encouragement to those who want to understand the power of kindness.
Dwayne: How does worship play into the concept of kindness?
Greg: One of the keys to kindness is composure or experiencing a calmness in our mind, our words, and our actions. One of the best ways to find composure is by focusing on God.
Meditation and journaling have been an immense help and source of comfort to me. It’s a bit different than praying or even reading biblical passages alone. In meditation, I’m focused on being present with God. It’s intentional. It’s not just me speaking to God but a two-way conversation in which I also listen to God. He might bring a Scripture to my mind, and as I read it, I start to write down in my journal what the Lord is telling me through His Word. I also include music in my meditation. When we worship God, it changes our hearts and minds. Often when I am meditating in prayer, God’s Word, and worship, the Lord reminds me of all the ways He has been faithful to me. I write these down in my journal, recognizing that God can and will always bring me through my present circumstances.
Dwayne: What encouragement do you have for those in ministry who have experienced hurt because of a lack of kindness?
Greg: Working in ministry is a beautiful calling, but it can also be disappointing when one is faced with situations in which Christians don’t behave like Christ. I have worked at three mega churches and have had the experience of feeling chewed up and eventually spit out when not needed anymore. Sadly, when people experience church hurt—whether they work in ministry or attend a church where they have had a traumatic experience—they often walk away from their faith or become angry with God.
But church leaders are just people—flawed, sinful humans, just like the rest of us. I was disappointed in some of the leaders I worked for and was hurt by this as well. But in order to begin to forgive, we need first to see our leaders and peers as fellow human beings with their own sins and foibles.
In our culture we tend to idolize people. We put them up on a pedestal until they come crashing down. Then we walk away from what they represented. We idolize pastors—especially megachurch pastors—and treat them like rock stars. Then the moment they do something wrong, we crash. Our idol is broken, and we walk away from God, as if we are surprised that Christians are, well, human.
In the book, I share about my own church hurt and how I discovered the importance forgiveness plays in kindness.
Dwayne: How can one person’s kindness make a difference in the world?
Greg: Too often, we think that we, as individuals, don’t have the power to make change in our world. But the reality is that every good thing—every good movement—starts with one person.
When you walk in kindness toward others—forgiving them, being generous to them, having composure toward them, accepting them, being at rest with them, showing wisdom towards them, having a heart of empathy for them, being patient with them, loving them, and being a peacemaker toward them—it breaks down the wall of division and brings unity like nothing else can.
Greg Atkinson is a bestselling author, speaker, pastor, coach, and consultant who has worked with churches of all sizes, including some of the largest and fastest growing in the country, as well as organizations such as Josh McDowell Ministries. He is a contributor to many magazines and websites, including Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today, Pastors.com, ChurchLeaders.com, and Outreach Magazine, as well as a member of the Forbes Coaching Council and a Forbes featured contributor. Atkinson is the Founder of the First Impressions Conference and Worship Impressions and Co-Founder of the Social Media Church Conference. His website is gregatkinson.com.