Being Thoughtful Like Jesus
Hmmm… “Crafted with thoughtful ingredients.”
I pictured a group of people sitting around a kitchen table or hovering over a stove, testing one ingredient after another. They nod in agreement or argue about choosing blueberries over strawberries to make the perfect snack bar. Well, maybe not. But I know the company wanted me to believe they had put thought into its product, even if the package label was a bit over the top.
Some people are naturally thoughtful, or at least it seems that way. They have an aura of kindness that permeates their every gesture and word.
And then there are those who are seemingly unaware of the discord and hurt they leave in their wake.
I’m not talking about the “grenade launchers.” Those people take time to craft what they say or write. Their calculated comments are meant to be cruel. They should be dealt with directly and firmly when they poison relationships in a family, company or organization.
Thoughtless people should also be held accountable. Too often their biggest fault is thinking only of themselves and what will benefit their own position. They don’t even recognize how insensitive and inconsiderate they are. They don’t take the time to be thoughtful.
Being thoughtful can take time: sending a card; baking a welcoming treat for a new neighbor; bringing a hostess gift.
But most thoughtful things don’t really take all that much time and effort: a kind word; a helpful hand; an encouraging smile; an appreciative attitude; a courteous gesture.
Being thoughtless, however, never takes much time. Not only is there is a lack of effort to think things through, there is also a rush to speak and act. Those inconsiderate thoughts and actions never take a path through the heart.
By nature, we all have come from a place of being thoughtless… to not think of others first; to not be considerate; to think only of ourselves and our own needs. We didn’t have to be taught to be self-centered and impetuous.
But somewhere along the line, whether it was our parents or teachers or mentors, we hopefully learned to care about the feelings and welfare of others.
But what if we encounter someone who hasn’t absorbed these traits? Can you teach someone to be thoughtful? Are some people lost causes?
As a teacher, I struggled with all sorts of thoughtless behavior in the classroom. Other teachers would warn me about certain students and wish me luck in changing their attitudes. Sometimes I had to speak directly to the rude way someone was addressing me. One student was completely unaware he was even being disrespectful. He asked me how he was supposed to answer back. When I gave him a suggested response, he took it to heart. Apparently he was used to verbal combat in his family environment. From that day forward, he never spoke unkindly... to me at least.
It’s never too late to be an influence. Sometimes it’s necessary to sit down with a person and explain why their behavior or comments are thoughtless. The best way to teach thoughtfulness, however, is by example. We can create a thoughtful environment by our own actions and words. We all benefit from an atmosphere that reminds us to be thoughtful and brings out the best in our relationships. What a wonderful climate in a company, organization, or family when everyone has the spirit of being thoughtful!
So how do I know if I’m being thoughtful? When I take stock of my behavior, this isn’t all that difficult to determine. Thoughtfulness implies thinking of others. You would never call someone thoughtful if he were only thinking of himself. Being thoughtful, having the attitude of a servant, takes “self” out of the equation.
No one could ever accuse our Lord Jesus of being thoughtless. When Thomas missed out on the Lord’s appearance that first resurrection Sunday evening, Jesus made a special effort to include him the following week. He personally assured Thomas that He was alive, but more importantly Jesus welcomed him and forgave his disbelief (John 20:26-27). The tenderest moment of thoughtfulness, however, was when Jesus, in the midst of His suffering on the cross, made sure his own mother would be taken care of (John 19:26-27).
Thank goodness Jesus didn’t view us as lost causes. When you think of all the ways our salvation was carefully thought out and planned, culminating with our Lord Jesus’ climactic victory over death, it’s obvious we weren’t an afterthought.
And while He was on this earth, He gave us the example of the perfect, thoughtful leader. Never was there a thoughtless comment, gesture, or action. Oh, to have the mind and heart of Jesus!
On top of that He continues to make Himself available to us 24/7. He’s ready to listen to us and guide us so we are more caring and considerate.
And He also forgives us for those times when we are unkind and thoughtless.
No one could ever be more thoughtful than that!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
First published at Lead Like Jesus September 2018