Kind or Unkind?

I heard a father speaking with pride about his son the other day. It’s not uncommon for a parent or grandparent to speak about his family with joy and delight! I should know because I am a shameless “doting grandparent!” This father is a church leader who remarked quite loftily that his fourteen-year-old had taught him “more about the Kingdom and every moment being holy” than any other person he knew! What may or may not surprise you is that this man’s son was developmentally disabled with Down syndrome.

Kindness and Inclusion!
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The Centers for Disease Control estimate that about one in six children (about 17%) in the United States today, ages 3 through 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities. I can speak fondly of several special needs children, youth, and adults. We were blessed in every church where I have served to have these special individuals included among us. I also have a beloved, adult-aged niece who is challenged in this way. I can say unequivocally that persons with a developmental disability are smart, talented, and capable.

In fact, many of these family members, friends and fellow church members are super-gifted. I remember seeing an incredibly talented contestant by the name of Kodi Lee who participated in the 2019 edition of America’s Got Talent. He went on to become the first developmentally disabled contestant to ever win the competition! Lee was a gifted and prodigious musician that sang and played the piano even though blind and on the Autism Spectrum!

Returning to the proud father mentioned earlier, he spoke specifically about what made his son so special. As the dad bragged about his son, he commented how the teenager only had two categories for everyone he met, “kind or unkind, and he hugs them both!” The dad also candidly remarked about his son, “he wants to be included and he fears exclusion.”

I am so thankful that many churches find ways to value and include these special friends in the life of the faith community. One such special individual in our church participates in a pre-service prayer group, lights the altar candles on special occasions, and assists other lay persons with Communion. Last Sunday, he was on the platform participating in a recognition service for our pastor. Our church leaders and members are so kind to him that I’m sure he feels loved, accepted, and included!

Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a necessary trait of Spirit-filled Christians. Paul positions this quality in the middle of two other responses to the needs of others: “patience, kindness, goodness.” (Galatians 5:22). In every way, each of the fruit mentioned grows out of love – love for God and for others! Jesus is the supreme example of love and kindness. Paul instructed the Ephesians, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT).

I agree with the fourteen-year-old, there are really only two categories of individuals… “Kind or unkind.” Let us always be counted among the kind ones!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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