Posts Tagged heart

Common Courtesy Not So Common by John D. Pierce*

It seems that common courtesy is just not very common.

I am not yearning for some romanticized, yesteryear version of politeness that only exists in aging imaginations. I’m talking about the overt, socially acceptable public ugliness that has exploded in recent years.

One doesn’t need Dick Tracy or Sherlock Holmes to see this behavior being modeled after the harsh and often fact-less political rhetoric that has triumphed.

Petty name-calling, threats of harm as well as racist undertones and overtones have fueled an overall sense of license for acts that otherwise would be considered inappropriate and condemned. Instead, ugliness and even violence get cheered on as justified.

Even many of those not participating in the most public and harshest versions of self-indulgence and fear-based hostilities seem to embrace the idea that treating other persons respectfully is unimportant. This is especially true when those with unacknowledged privilege treat those unlike them as threats.

While courtesy is not a distinctly Christian practice, showing basic consideration of others is easily extractable from the teachings of Jesus. If Jesus said and showed anything, it is that all of humanity is of equal value and to be treated with love, grace and mercy.

One cannot love a broadly-defined neighbor as oneself — which Jesus said is half of everything God wants us to be and do — without giving them respect and care.

Often Jesus’ emphasis was specifically focused on providing sensitive and active responses to those who are most vulnerable or in greatest need. Being courteous and kind is at the heart of doing unto others as one wants done to oneself.

Some of this basic, respectful behavior is rooted in the “don’ts” of not demeaning others or not projecting blame on the innocent or not misspeaking of someone when the truth is readily available. The weapons of lying, cheating and ridicule can and should be laid aside.

One way to check our own propensity for selfishness, defensiveness and insensitivity toward others is to take note of our simple, daily behaviors. To what degree do we routinely act in ways that are considerate of others?

My longtime friend Andrew Stone, a high school guidance counselor, posted in social media some brief recommendations recently. He deemed this advice a “graduation speech,” but it’s applicable to all.

Among the routine behaviors of consideration, he counseled: Always return the shopping cart; tip generously every time; hand your money to the cashier rather than throw it on the counter; and don’t hit the car parked next to you with your door.

The one which I think shows the true heart of a person, he advised: Go out of your way to be nice to people in the service industry. Nothing gets my blood boiling like watching customers treat service personnel disrespectfully.

Staff shortages throughout the hospitality industry reveal both a history of mistreatment in many cases as well as their value to our frequent, often daily, experiences. These are people — not our servants.

This includes hotel housekeeping staff who can use the generous tip we leave behind more than we can.

The roadway is another place where some of us (I confess to impatience here.) need to be more considerate. Andrew recommends learning the rules of a four-way stop, and then abiding by them.

He notes, “It’s not a race.” And, I must add, we now have a growing number of traffic circles to navigate.

These are really just ways to be human. But they align with being human as Jesus taught and lived — with an orientation toward common good over personal advancement at the expense of others.

My friend Andrew concluded with, “Follow your heart, always.” However, we must ensure that our hearts are “right” with an orientation toward offering grace and love in the same ways we want to receive them.

There are appropriate times and places for confronting evil, calling out destructive forces and countering falsehoods that bring harm to vulnerable people. Doing such is not unkind. But neither does it negate our need to respect others.

“Little acts of kindness” can be underrated. Because not doing these things (or doing the opposite) send a larger message and reveal a broader reality of self-absorption which is at the heart of the biblical concept of sin.

It’s unconvincing to claim a commitment to a loving and generous God when one’s attitudes and actions are not loving and generous. Such poor behavior within Americanized Christianity conveys a deity who is not loving and generous, but angry, exclusive and petty.

Most of us were taught in childhood to “Be ye kind one to another” (Ephesians 4:32 KJV). Such courtesies don’t expire with age.

As Glen Campbell sang in a 1969 crossover hit: “The kindness that you show every day will help someone along their way.”

John D. Pierce headshot
John D. Pierce
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.

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The Urgency of Joy by Aurelia Davila

In the wake of Uvalde, I am filled with a grief so deep it touches on other aching parts of my heart. Like the part that dreads sending my own kid to school each day, come this fall. But also the part that has yet to fully process what it means to live in a world with Covid or to comprehend what we’ve all been through these last two years because of it. 

The grief of all that has been lost to the families of Uvalde and Buffalo and Laguna Woods and Tulsa (and, and, and!) is too much. The grief that nothing seems to be happening to change future circumstances is more than a person can bear. It brings up a hopelessness that threatens to overtake us. Yet, we are familiar with this hopelessness because we have known it many times in recent years.

I want to suggest (with great urgency!) that one of our responses to all of this might be the cultivation of joy.

We’ve heard it said, “You’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can put on the person’s next to you.” This metaphor can help us prioritize a care for self that is necessary if we are to make sustainable contributions to the collective.

Cultivating our own joy is not meant to be selfish work. We are not ignoring the needs of the world around us. Instead, we are beginning to understand that we can actively care without carrying every single load, every single time. We put on our own oxygen mask first so that our much needed participation in the work of heaven on earth is not in vain.

This is also not meant to be easy work. In fact, this both/and posture is the road less traveled. It is the harder way. Peeling back the layers of shame and guilt we experience when we choose to prioritize our own care is no easy feat. After all, many of us have been indoctrinated to deny ourselves to the point of physical, spiritual, and emotional neglect.

But if we deny ourselves, how will we care for anything or anyone outside ourselves? This is not the well we were meant to draw from! As bearers of God’s own image, as Divine temples, we must learn to include the work of nurturing our own bodies, spirits, and healing.

So we put on our own oxygen mask first—not as an act of disregard for all that is playing out in these times, but as an act of radical love and care for all of creation. When we do it, we witness a metaphorical breath of fresh air that flows up and out of us, expanding our capacity for hope, peacemaking, and compassion. Energizing us. Fueling our ability to face the realities of the world. To care without carrying to our own detriment.

We put on our own oxygen mask first, and what’s more, what if joy is the oxygen mask? What if our joy is a key ingredient to our collective liberation? Our desire to love, our urge to serve, our inclination to give and propensity to make significant change is not sustainable without first tending to our own inner landscape.

May this reminder compel us to make the necessary adjustments right here, right now via our spiritual practices, of which joy should be a part.

Like any other spiritual practice, with joy, we are signing up for a lifetime of never quite arriving. We are committing to the necessary work of holding joy in tension with grief, lament, rage, etc. We are consistently giving ourselves grace and compassion.

We are cultivating the love and care we perceive is needed out there, within ourselves. We are reflecting our hopes for the world within our own bodies. We are practicing joy again and again, and in doing so, we are increasing our capacity to recognize and experience it daily. Again, none of this is in place of our outer work, but rather, in addition to it.

So—attention to anyone who will listen!

If you spot an opportunity for joy in these times, take it. Consider joy, in all its shapes and sizes, a Spirit-nudge. A challenge to be accepted. Unapologetically and fervently grab hold of it. Because I am convinced that joy is our ticket. Joy is the life preserver we desperately need. Joy can be our salvation, pulling us out of our throes of fear, panic, and hopelessness.

As we continue in our liberation work, in which we use our bodies and voices to actively usher in heaven on earth, may we remember: joy is not just a bonus. It’s not just a whim. Joy is our oxygen mask, it is urgent to our thriving, and we cannot do without it in these times.

Aurelia Dávila Pratt is the lead pastor of Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas, and cohost of the Nuance Tea Podcast where she is redefining what it means to be a clergywoman of color. Her book, A Brown Girl’s Epiphany, is available for pre-order now! Learn more at

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June 5, 2016 Is Say Something Nice Sunday

iSt. John the Baptist
The purpose of Say Something Nice Sunday is very simple. On this one day do not say anything negative about any person, Christian organization or group and if possible say something nice, uplifting, and encouraging. What comes out of our mouths is reflective of what is in our hearts.

This is the 10th anniversary of our movement to change the downward spiral of our speech to speech that is more Christ-like. It is amazing how a kind word can make such a difference in someone’s life. People often respond with, “You don’t know how badly I needed that. I have had a terrible day.”

Rev. Garry Hollingsworth, Executive Director/Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said, “It is timely for you folks to encourage this kind of cooperation among God’s people since we face so many spiritual challenges in this state and our nation.”

scan0002.jpg BishopThe Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (all of South Carolina,) enthusiastically endorsed the annual celebration. He said, “The decline of civility is at an epidemic level in our society and unfortunately has invaded our religious life. The disrespect shown to Christians by other Christians is far from what Jesus wants for His people.”

Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church and a member of the committee, emphasizes, “In conversation, an attitude of grace dissolves the temptation to pre-judge the words or the reactions of another. Grace keeps us from being easily offended, and in a conversation on a difficult subject, you neither want to give or take offense. Our world has been divided long enough – let’s build relationships that can change it, starting right here.”

Free materials are at Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down on the right to Say Something Nice Sunday. There are Bible references, devotionals, art work and the purpose.



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Communication as Ministry


Good conversation like good music or a good book nourishes the soul. Good communication builds relationships. Nothing says more about a person’s caring than his or her willingness to listen without judgment or interruption. Sometimes our greatest ministry is simply to be one hundred percent present in the moment.

There are times when there are no words capable of conveying what is in our hearts, but there are no times when being one hundred percent present with another is not effective. Raymond DeShazo, former professor at Mars Hill University, was fond of saying, “The way you know when you really love another person is when you can be in a room together for hours and neither of you says a word. Just being present is enough.”

We all need and search for connectedness. We know how it feels to be in a crowd and yet feel utterly alone and isolated. We need and want to belong. We need to touch and be touched. We can be warmed by another person’s smile or simple acknowledgement.

The ability to communicate is a gift. We can bless others by the way we use our gift to heal, to build-up and not to harm. Conversely we can use our gift to tear down, to harm, and to destroy relationships.

My mother and my late wife had the same favorite Scripture passage. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto thee oh God my strength and my redeemer.” They both understood that what comes out of our mouth is a result of what is in our heart. If the heart overflows with love that is what we will speak.

One of my most cherished books is, As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen.  Allen stresses that what we think about is what we will become. We can control our lives by controlling our thoughts. If we fill our minds with good will toward others that is what we will express and demonstrate.

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