“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:1b–2, ESV)
The Book of Proverbs reminds us:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV)
But we too often turn to harshness rather than gentleness. We become irritated at our spouse or our children, and we will raise our voice. We get frustrated with an employee who makes a mistake and we respond to them in a demeaning way.
It is a way to get what we want. We can intimidate the other person to motivate them to make better decisions. The person on the other end of our furor may end up cooperating with us, but it may also be at great consequence to the relationship. Harshness can be effective in the short term for a task but never works for the long term for the relationship.
Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple, was famous for berating employees when he was not happy. No one can argue the results. The employees were motivated out of fear of the boss’ wrath to make great products. The company has been incredibly successful as it has built upon Steve Jobs legacy. But there are also accounts of how Job’s relationships suffered as a result of belittling others.
The question that needs to be asked: “Does it need to be that way?” Do we need to be harsh to get our way? Do we need to berate others to motivate them? The answer is no!
Who is to say that Steve Jobs could not have got the same thing out Apple employees by being respectful and kind to them? Who is to say that being calm and gentle with you family members will help them make better decisions?
There is a saying that you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And there is truth in that saying. There are times when I will be standing in a customer service line. The person in front of me is angry and upset toward the customer representative. They raise their voice and demand the representative meet their demands.
I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the customer service representative. Who are you more inclined to help? The person who blows their lid? Or the person who is calm, collected, and respectful? The answer is obvious. If you can help the person who is gentle, you will help that person. To the person who is harsh, you will show little sympathy.
God calls us to be gentle towards others. He understands your frustrations. He knows that you have the desire to lash out. But he calls you to be gentle because it is a more fruitful response. And he desires you to experience the fruit of faith.
- Do you agree that gentleness is more effective than harshness?
- Where in your life do you need to repent of being harsh?
- What does a gentle response look like when you have been hurt or offended?