Has anyone ever described you as gentle?
Did you take it as a compliment?
I admit, I’ve always had a negative feeling about the word. Who would want to be gentle?
Then this morning, my pastor talked about the passage in the Bible where Jesus describes himself as gentle and humble. Humble, I was OK with. Gentle, not so much.
Then my pastor defined gentleness as “strength under control.” The example he gave was wild horses that are tamed. They still have the same strength, the same horsepower if you will, but it’s been brought under control.
As I thought more about it later, I remembered one of the highest compliments I received in 20-plus years as a journalist. A state legislator who I had interviewed numerous times told me I was a “gentleman reporter.”
I told him I appreciated it, but I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant until a few years later when a colleague wrote a column about me when I was leaving the paper. He pointed out that some reporters thought you should do whatever it takes to get the story, and added that I would disagree with that but get the story anyway.
As I thought about that, it brought to mind my pastor’s description of humbleness as “the sane estimate of ourselves and our abilities.”
I’ve often underestimated myself and my abilities simply because I didn’t want to appear stuck up or overconfident. That’s not exactly insane, but it wasn’t good thinking either.
I’m not sure where I got it, but somewhere along the way I got the erroneous idea that thinking less of myself would somehow allow other people to think better of themselves.
Life doesn’t work that way. In fact, the opposite is true. It is by being true to ourselves that others are better able to get in touch with their true selves.
This free e-book helped me better understand myself.