When Being Kind is a Flaw

When Being Kind is a Flaw

I have a reputation, among some people, for being a kind and nice man.  I am glad for that reputation, because I believe kindness is rare in the world, and is the best act of being human. Being kind is not as easy as some people may suppose.  Its not that hard to treat people well.  Thats the easy part.  Being kind is difficult when people take your kindness for granted, and try to manipulate you by assuming you will do what they want because you are being kind.  The end result is that you either get yourself caught up in other people’s agendas, or you get treated like a doormat.  Either way, it takes a lot of emotional energy from you in order to be kind.

I believe in kindness.  In being kind, I can show the love of God to others.  Through kindness, people may see God through me.  I am fond of the last line of the musical version of “Les Miserables,” “He who loves another person has seen the face of God.”  Through being kind, it is my hope that people will see God’s face and come to Him.  This is a mitzvah and a blessing.  In a world where people are out for themselves, and step on one another without caring, kindness remains the one act that stands out and expresses love for others, especially the love of God.

The difficulty comes in when people seek to use my kindness to further their own agendas, and use my name, without asking me, or garner my participation, only to use my reputation to gain entry to others for things I don’t endorse.  People who participated because my name was used, are then angry with me, when I had nothing to do with it.

Another difficulty has occurred in my own congregation.  People know I’m a soft touch, and they will ask if they can do one thing or another, and as long as its not against the values of the congregation, I usually give my ok.  It winds up clashing with someone else’s job, and they get upset, and once again I was wrong.

I have learned, that permissiveness is not kindness.  I need to guard my kindness so that it means something.  I need to tell people “no”at times.  I need to not let people use my name without my permission.  If I don’t do this, then my being kind will mean nothing, and the good I hope it will accomplish, will not happen.  Kindness requires a responsibility to stand strong and tell people “No,” even if they get upset about it.  If they throw a fit, or dislike me because I said no, then their friendship was not a real friendship to begin with.  Friendship is not based on doing whatever someone else wants me to do for them.  Friendship is based on seeking the mutual good of others.  I have no problem helping people in need, but I refuse to be caught up in other people’s agendas.  I can be kind and still say no.  In fact, it sometimes requires it.  God answers all our prayers, but sometimes His answer is “No,” and it’s “No” for our own good.  I am learning I need to do the same. Saying “No” at times may be the best way to help someone.

My wife, in hearing what I’ve written here, asked if I’m mad at anyone.  I’m not mad at all.  Rather, this is what I have learned; and learned the hard way. I am still going to seek to be kind and nice, but people will be hearing the word “No” from me more often.



5 thoughts on “When Being Kind is a Flaw

  1. Well Michael, this is a occupational hazard for people like us and in the end all the trash and all the garbage is left setting on our door step. Now the good news is that in time the problem makers go away, with pain, but they do go away and peace returns. The Partners that we need must we willing to sacrifice with us, not sacrifice us.

  2. In my own journey of being kind I’ve found that some people actually see kindness as a form of weakness, this is odd to me but never the less true. Sometimes, like you’ve mentioned Rabbi, I’ve found that the most loving and unselfish way to be kind is by standing up for myself or whatever cause it may be and saying ‘no’. It’s usually due to my own fear of rejection or being portrayed as not being nice that holds me back from this little word. In the end, the person usually ends up respecting me more because I pressed through and stood my ground.

    Great blog Rabbi, thanks!

  3. Well said and appreciated. Having been in relationships that have used my kindness for their agenda once too many I started to see a pattern with caused me to utilize no more frequently. In the beginning this seemed hard but I realized this is part of discerning and growing up even though I was about 50 at the time, it had resemblance of rearing my three children and doing what was best for the child and our relationship. As rebbemichael above stated peace returns instead of feeling used and unappreciated. This is a good thing. Shalom

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  5. Rabbi, as I have said many times, you are a good man, You are also kind, and VERY wise.

    In your dealings with members of your congregation, you must be indisputably in charge, no two ways about it. Not as a despot, but as G-d’s representative. It so happens that you fulfill that a hundred times over. Your decisions must be given with the will of G-d as your guiding light. Any member who also has G-d’s will as his guiding light, will follow you without question. Friction between members is rarely your fault, and you ought not to accept any guilt for it. The members are not perfect, and that’s why many of them turn to you for leadership.

    Rabbi, sit back a little. Do what you know is right, and let the chips fall where they may. There are many of us who hold you in the very highest regard, as a good and kind man. Anyone who does not hold you so is out to lunch. As I said above, the members are not perfect.

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