Everyone is struggling with something. Be gentle.
It doesn’t matter how successful, wise, or content we may become, most of us are always struggling with something. It could be big or small. It could be silly or life altering. At any given point, you may find yourself wrestling with a life question, a relationship, or an illness. Perhaps a financial struggle, losing weight, or finding God. Maybe you are thinking about your death, worrying about your child, or aiming to finish your education. Perhaps you are striving to reach a lifelong dream, believe in yourself, or have a greater sense of self-worth. Or maybe you are agonizing over the passing of a parent or a loved one.
Life is hard—for everyone. Even the Bible says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 90:10). If you follow the news, you must have heard of the recent abduction of the school girls in Nigeria. I can’t even imagine the agony their parents must be feeling. Some struggles carry far greater intensity and gravity than others.
Why am I saying this in an article about gentleness? Because chances are each person you will encounter today has something they are struggling with. Would you be gentle with them? They may be struggling quietly. They may have a smile on their face; they may have adapted and become strong. But their struggle is still there, gnawing on their thoughts and spirit.
My leader friend, be gentle. For you have the prerogative to frown or to smile, to yell or to uplift, to deflate or to empower, to discourage or to inspire. Which will you choose?
Remember that being gentle does not mean you must become like the proverbial grandma who greets you at the door with cookies. It does not mean that people will walk all over you, or that you cannot set boundaries. Nor does it mean that you are aimless and unaggressive in how you approach life.
Gentleness has strength at its core. To be gentle you have to absorb pain and radiate love, and that takes strength. Only the strong and wise can be gentle.
There is nothing stronger than gentleness. - Abraham Lincoln
Our tendency as leaders if we are not careful is to become pushy. We push ourselves, and we want to push others. We often drive ourselves, and in turn drive others. But this drive can easily cross a line and become harshness and roughness, though we do it in the name of gaining progress and maintaining high standards.
Be gentle to all and stern with yourself. - Mother Teresa
For Further Reading: