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A Gentle World
 
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
 but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1
 
It took me most of my 20s to realize that customer service representatives on the telephone are, in some ways, a bullied demographic. They are the front line for anger and frustration from disappointed consumers, who easily forget that this individual probably had no personal involvement in the occurrence that has led to their call.
 
I’ve always been polite–firm, but not rude–and now I always aim to go out of my way to be kind and patient, even with the most easily perplexed of representatives.
 
How true it is that kindness, gentleness or ‘softness,’ as this scripture says, is the key to dissipating a heightened situation: a gentle word in a room of shouting, a person who waits to speak in a meeting rather than getting caught up in the emotion, a word of kindness to a child loudly overcome with emotion–these are the actions that change the course of day.
 
Often though, our culture wants to reserve these qualities just for women, and that does men a huge disservice. Some of the most respected male leaders with whom I have worked have these qualities in spades: compassion, gentleness and kindness. I am grateful that I work with many such men at St. Martin’s. In times of conflict, a gentle spirit that takes its time to respond with considered quiet wisdom is one of the greatest gifts to an organization, as well as being cherished by a spouse, family and home.

This week, men and women–followers of Jesus–take time to consider how you might respond more quietly, more gently and more softly in times of dissonance that you would bring a Christ-like peace to a situation, and stir up patience, kindness and thoughtfulness, rather than anger and increased discord.
 
A prayer for today
Holy Spirit, Jesus, Father, convict us where we respond in anger, heal us where we respond from hurt, teach us to hold back and to offer kind, considered words, rein in our anger, even our rightful indignation at injustice.
Cultivate gentleness in us, that we may sow seeds of peace in our workplaces, families and homes this week. Amen.
The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Associate for Liturgy, Student Ministries and Outreach
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