Kindness is the starting point for making a disciple.  The discipler pursues his disciple by extending to him an invitation of friendship through kindness.   Jesus demonstrates this approach in Matthew 11 when he says:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

This verse is a reminder for the followers of Jesus of the attitude we should have towards our mates, children, disciples, and friends.

For many the world has been a cruel experience resulting in a callousness, coldness, and weariness.  (Who can forget the brutality of Jr. High?  Even as adults how rare it is to hear a kind word or receive an act of kindness.)   Stephen Covey has observed:

People are very tender, very sensitive inside.  I don’t believe age or experience makes much difference.  Inside, even within the most toughened and calloused exteriors are the tender feelings and emotions of the heart. [1]

My kindness to others is an invitation for them to experience the heart of God, the nature of His family and kingdom, and the message of the good news of Jesus.  As Paul wrote:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”  (Titus 3:4-6)

Some closing thoughts:

  • Building Trust.  Do not be surprised at an initial response of resistance or indifference from your disciple to your kindness.  Cruelty makes one suspicious and cynical.  It may take many investments of kindness before your disciple will be able to trust you.  He will test you.
  • Learning.  Disciple making involves both mind and heart because a wounded heart hinders a head from right thinking.   Your heart is the best classroom for your disciple.
  • Healing. Healing occurs for your disciple as you allow him to enter your heart where he can experience gentleness and humility.
  • Listening.  One of the kindest things you can do for your disciple is to listen to him.

[1] Covey, Stephen “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p.193.