Make kindness your cornerstone
Things change when you remember to love.
Most teens and young adults feel pushed at every turn by the pressures of a competitive society calling them to be the best and do the best to get the best—at all costs.
What I’ve learned is that true success is marked by a life lived in love and kindness rather than in crashing along at full-blown competition mode. A life driven by a sincere and unselfish loving regard for others can turn life’s stressing into blessing all around, charting the most meaningful and fulfilling course to success. I’m not saying be kind to others to impress others or to better yourself. I am saying be kind to others out of a sincere love for others, and with an intentional effort to put what’s truly best for others first. You will find that what is best for others is best for you anyway as long as you don't ignore the truth. You will also find more passion in being your best for God and others than you will ever find for yourself. Take the focus off yourself and put the focus on others and see the difference it makes.
Put others first
In 20 years of running a business, I have found that those with higher educations are not so rare, but the ones who catch my attention are those who show a sincere loving regard for others. In business and in life, they are as rare and precious as diamonds. First in my book will always be the people who put themselves last and others first.
I’ve seen those who put themselves first finding themselves last, instead. I remember one time having a youth group come out to the lake to watch me ski jump. Only two of the 20 or more in the group could ride in the boat while I jumped. When the youth leader announced this to the group, one young man blurted out, “Shotgun!” then ran and jumped in the boat.
The young man did get the better view and the boat ride, but sacrificed what means more: his influence, and the love and respect of the others who saw his selfishness push in front of them.
Unselfishness succeeds every time
I am convinced that an unselfish lifestyle will lead to more prosperity, not less. A selfish person trying to be the best at everything is almost guaranteed to fail and a selfless person considering others at every turn is almost guaranteed to succeed. We were created to do excellent things but not simply so we can be better than anyone, but so we can help everyone.
To get what we want, we will give all we have. That’s human nature. But, for love of God and others, we will give more than we ever knew we had, but never at any cost. The broken part of that at-any-cost mentality shows itself when the cost falls on the backs of others. There is nothing wrong with loving at all cost because love keeps the all-cost part on our own backs. It doesn't force a sacrifice from others. Jesus loved at all cost and it cost Him everything and others nothing, but gained Him and others everything.
What is broken about selfish success is that it hurts others and destroys us in the process. Loving success helps others and builds us in the process. I think we should forever chase greatness in all we do. Fear will sacrifice others to get what it wants. Love will sacrifice itself to help others. This does not mean we don't compete to be the best, it just means, as we go, we remain humble and kind and never sacrifice others to get what we want.
‘Love never fails’
If loving yourself was the trick, we would not need anyone. Even God couldn't love Himself. That's why, I believe, He created us. What we must learn is how to value and be grateful for the gift of our lives that God has given us.
Colossians 3 tells us about healthy selflessness, including these verses: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things;” and “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 tells us to seek the good of others.
Proverbs 3:3-4 says: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
1 Corinthians 13:8 says: “Love never fails.”
You can change everything
I remember, as a kid, scenes I saw on television of a plane crash over a frozen river. Survivors were desperately trying to stay alive in the freezing water, clinging to pieces of the plane to keep from drowning. I saw many people at the scene standing on the river bank watching the disaster play out. But, everything changed when a couple of the men on the bank jumped into the frigid treacherous waters and swam to pull some of the victims to safety.
Those men put themselves last to help others and found themselves first in God’s eyes and everyone’s mind because they showed the courage to really love others no matter what it costs them. When we allow love to rule our lives, there is no greater adventure and no more gratifying feeling.
Many people we encounter every day in life feel as desperate as those plane crash survivors desperately clinging to a broken corner of hope. For all of us, it’s easier to stand on the banks or just turn and walk away. But life’s greatest adventures, meaning, delights and successes are found in the times we reach out in love with kindness.
About Kenny Vaughan
Kenny Vaughan is the CEO and founder of Shields of Strength, a company that empowers people through its scripture-engraved jewellery. Kenny found strength and purpose in God during his trials as a national water-ski jumping champion. Now his passion is to help others find that same strength.