Category Archives: Family Life

Teaching Our Kids Kindness Versus Tolerance

This is an excerpt from the book Parenting With Gumption and Grit.

Teach them to be kind. Is this not one thing we can all agree on in parenting?

That’s the easy part.

The hard part is teaching our children to be kind in a world that is drawn to constant comparisons. She has better clothes, cars, houses, parents, spouse, and/or positions on the sports team. When we fall into the comparison trap as parents, rest assured our kids will do the same thing. If the comparison game is a common practice for you, it will be more and more difficult to teach your children the importance of kindness. We live in a fast-paced world which lends itself to many people dealing with both hopelessness and helplessness. Pray that your child is kind enough to see that hope and help are within his grasp. That can only be accomplished if they are knowledgeable about kindness. And they can only be knowledgeable about kindness if they have been taught how to be kind.

On the heels of trying to encourage children to be kind, in the last few decades, tolerance has now become a catch word in our country, in our jobs, and in our schools. Its original intention, I think, was to express itself as kindness. Why then, I ask, could we not just say “Be kind.” Kind is not subjective. Kind does not discriminate. Kind is not exclusive.

The scriptural command to be kind is intended for all audiences to be directed towards all people. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

 Kind is how we treat someone regardless of who they are, what they are, what their religion or political position may be, or whether or not they agree with us. When we are kind, we are not indifferent to the needs and interests of others. Kind does not require us to agree with anyone. It does not require us to pardon a crime. It does not require us to issue kindness at the expense of justice. It simply requires us to be kind to people, whether those people deserve it or not. Kindness. My friend and pastor, Dan, once said:

“Tolerance is a cheap and flimsy virtue compared to robust examples of grace, like patience, hospitality, justice, kindness, and love.”

I couldn’t agree more. Tolerance is subjective. In demanding tolerance, are we truly demanding others to be genuinely kind, or is the agenda of tolerance much more cynical than that? I fear it is. I fear that in teaching our children tolerance, we are teaching them kindness with stipulations. For instance, “You can be kind to them only when they agree with your position.” Or “If you do not agree with me, you are intolerant and not deserving of my kindness.” Kindness versus tolerance! Kindness is, as my friend eloquently stated, “patient, hospitable, just, and loving.”

Let’s ponder for a minute a whole host of ordinary, everyday questions we all have spoken in various conversations with friends, family members, or colleagues. “Do you like television?” “Not really. I can tolerate it, but I prefer to read.” Or someone has asked me, “Did you have a good day at work?” And I responded half-heartedly, “It was tolerable.” Maybe they have asked you “Do you like your in-laws? Do you like vegetables? Do you like children? Do you like your job? Are you happy in your marriage?” And if you answered, “It’s tolerable,” Or “I just tolerate them,” then I would say that you have a very long way to go before you are eating vegetables with enthusiasm or before you are enjoying fulfilling relationships with your job, your family, your spouse, or other people in your life.

I don’t want to be tolerated. My preference is to be loved by those close to me and to be treated kindly and with compassion by everyone. I don’t want someone to look at me and judge me by my political position, my gender, or my socioeconomic status, and then reach the anti-climactic, cynical and shallow conclusion, “She’s tolerable.” I want people to look at me, not through the “tolerance” filter, but rather through a filter of kindness and humility.

Teach your children kindness-not the cultural version of that. Teach them kindness, not preferential treatment. Teach your children kindness, not prejudice. Teach them kindness without strings, not kindness with stipulations. Teach them kindness that carries its weight in navigating school, professional settings, church ministry and personal relationships.

Teach them kindness not tolerance. Kindness will go the distance. It will sustain the beholder through the fast and furious pace of this life journey and render them more success than perhaps any other relational trait.

 On the other hand, tolerance will assuredly rise up to meet the status quo, and keep pace with the absolute minimum effort required in relationships, or in a job, or in your children fulfilling their dreams. Teach your children kindness over tolerance. One is the real deal. The other is a cheap imitation of how we should truly treat others and how we expect them to treat us.

Telling Your Fear to Stand Down: Phobos vs. Yare’.

On the subject of fear, we all have it, but is it phobos, or is it a yare’?  It  makes a difference.

Phobos is the original greek word for the fear found in 1 John 4:18. which says “There is no fear (phobos) in love. But perfect love drives out fear (phobos), because fear (phobos) has to do with punishment. The  one who fears, (who has phobos,) is not make perfect in love.”  This fear we all know and recognize. This greek word is defined as terror or alarm, and the part I find the most eye-opening: withdrawing or fleeing for feeling inadequate, or to avoid because of dead fright. Phobos.

In 2 Timothy 1:7  We are told clearly that “God did not give us a spirit of fear (deilia) but one of power, love, and self-discipline.”  The original word used here for fear is deilia which means timidity or cowardice. Ouch. Both deilia and phobos are the types of fear that control us, keep us sidetracked; off-center, out of balance; preoccupied; and therefore….unhappy and disgruntled with the world and the people around us.  Do you see any connections?

On the other hand yare’, a wholly different kind of fear found in Deuteronomy 10:12 seems to be one that drives us forward; motivates us; spurs us on to do the right thing; to embrace healthy risk, Hope, and goodness:  “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear (yare’) the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”   

Phobos. Yare’.

The first, phobos, is the one that most all of us fall victim to-I don’t care what religion you profess, even no religion at all. We all fall victim to phobos.  I mean these are the original Greek and Hebrew definitions for two distinctly different types of fears, particularly as they are used in this context, and the ancient writers of scripture apparently found them useful in making sure their readers understood the types of behavior characteristic of both phobos and yare’.

 Phobos vs. Yare

I just finished a 15 day overseas trip with my youngest daughter Katie. The tradition started when my oldest daughter Shelby graduated from high school and requested a “mom and daughter” trip.  She chose England. My middle daughter chose France and Katie chose Ireland.  What does this all have to do with phobos you ask?

Well, a lot really.

I think I am guilty as charged of posting a plethora of pictures when traveling, perhaps presenting the idea that “this is all so carefree and easy.”  Tripping across the ocean alone with my child, renting a car and driving on the left (the wrong) side of the road; negotiating foreign lands, cultures, ferries, boats, planes, uncharted territories and situations. I often feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the sole caretake for my girl-protecting her from harm’s way were it indeed to come our way. I pour over the details in pre-planning stages, then when we are in the eye of the storm, I reexamine, every. single. night. our itinerary for the next day. Truth. I sometimes lose sleep  (not just from jet lag) and have a lot of anxiety.

That is when I realize that the phobos of 1 John 4:18 is taking hold of me, and I need to tell it to stand down.  Because the almighty God is the house. I know this specifically because 1 Corinthians 3:16 is explicit about where the Almighty dwells….in me. I am the house.

When I trade phobos in for yare’, He moves into first place, and my phobos is suppressed by the only thing it can be, yare’.  Yare’ is phobos’ greatest enemy.  Yeah we need to name our fear.

Life is full of bumps in the road, to put it mildly right?  Death, murder, loss, bad diagnosis, betrayal, disappointment, depression, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of opportunities for us to be 100% consumed by a phobos kind of fear. Yes! But we have 100% reason to not be either. We have all the more reason to be covered with a yare’ kind of fear.

If you were to take a poll of 100 people and asked them which emotion consumes them the most. Which one takes up residence in their hearts and minds, I think phobos would be the clear winner.   Yes, it wins over all of them: jealousy, anger, hurt, sadness, joy, disgust…because I believe phobos is at the root of all of these emotions. I belive that phobos is the common denominator among all of our negative emotions.  Just as yare‘ is perhaps the common denominator among all of our positive emotions.

Fear (phobos) of inferiority or insignificance can cause jealousy.
Fear (phobos) of commitment can cause loneliness.
Fear (phobos) of loss can cause depression .
Fear (phobos) of failure can cause timidity.
Fear (phobos) of the darkness can cause hopelessness.

On the other hand,

Fear (yare’) of God, can lead to understanding.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to wisdom.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to Hope.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to Joy.

So what can we do about phobos? Capture every single thought that is riddled with phobos and trample it into a million fragments under your feet into nothingness.  Every thought or pretention that sets itself up as truth-but yet it is not-let it disintegrate into the same darkness from which it came. (2 corinthians 10:5) If you need to, write your phobos on a piece of paper, and rip the paper to shreds. It is a thought, a contention, a fear- a phobos- whose only purpose is to separate you from your God, from yare’.

Yare’ advances us. Phobos puts us into retreat.
Yare’ puts phobos in its place. Yare’  tells phobos in no uncertain terms to stand down.  My God is in the house.