Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
“I will know that the presbytery has been transformed when we show kindness toward one another.” I made this statement in a Vision Team meeting in the middle of 2017. It was my first attempt to grasp what was occurring in the life of our presbytery, and what needed to change. Kindness can be experienced as civility. By actually listening to one another, and not just waiting to interrupt, is a show of respect. Kindness means feeling the frustration we share as we work within the rules of a system that often seems daunting, irrelevant, indifferent, and unreasonable. Kindness is the grace we extend to one another, especially in times of brokenness, insecurity, and vulnerability.
I am experiencing kindness at our presbytery gatherings. I am watching people show patience and flexibility when things are not perfect. I observe people listening to one another, even when we do not agree. I see people supporting ideas and decisions that rub against their personal interest but in the name of the greater good, they say “Yes!”
We will still disagree. We will still hold values that conflict. The Presbyterian church is a large tent, and Giddings-Lovejoy is a microcosm of the entire denomination. But we are disagreeing with a tone of kindness. We are having public discussions with respect for one another.
As a little boy I would occasionally get into a fight with one of my brothers. I am the youngest and they were bigger and stronger than I, so it was always a losing battle, except that one time I sprayed Keith with a water hose and ran, and he couldn’t catch me! That’s when I learned I was fast. But I digress! During these times my Mother would yell from the back of the house, “Stop hitting other people’s children!” As we show kindness to one another, perhaps we see one another as God’s children, and who are we to strike or hit God’s child?
Thanks to all of you who participated in the presbytery gathering. Thank you for the energy, humor, attention, seriousness, prayerfulness, and love that you bring. Thank you for sharing in the work of the ministry. This includes the neighborhood exegesis, personnel training, Missional Church workshop, business meeting, and worship. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! (Psalm 133)” Thank you all for making the presbytery gathering a place to show kindness, civility, and respect for one another.
Rev. Craig M. Howard