By Ryan Rice
Of all the words in the English language, “nice,” serves as the catch-all word when we don’t know what to say about something or someone. I mean, who doesn’t want to be called nice?
But what does it mean to be nice, is this even a compliment we should desire? Take your Bible and search for nice, and guess what, it’s not there.
If we look at the etymology of the word “nice,” we find from the late 12th–13th centuries, nice referred to being “careless, clumsy, weak.”
Looking a bit deeper, we also find “nice” to have been defined as “timid or faint-hearted.”
That doesn’t seem like a descriptor Christians should strive for. And according to the definition most people give today, Jesus wouldn’t have been considered nice.
The same Savior who healed the blind man at the pool of Bethesda is the same who cracked a whip and flipped over tables. He’s not only the sacrificial Lamb, but also the Lion of the Judah.
A Better Word and a Better Way
Even when the Bible talks about our attitude, it tells us the fruit of the Spirit in our lives isn’t niceness, but kindness.
Kindness is an attribute of God. He’s compassionate, faithful, and just. In the New Testament, we find kindness describing one that’s gentle, upright, gracious, and generous.
Ephesians tells us that we show kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives. We extend kindness by the grace and mercy of God.
The Scriptures implore us to be kind to each other. But kindness isn’t weakness or niceness.
Kindness is the compassion of God on display through the working of the Spirit in our lives. It takes a working of the Spirit in our lives to show kindness!
Contrast that idea with niceness which seeks to please people more than God and models worldly weakness instead of godly strength.
In the pursuit of being nice, we often say yes when we should say no. Instead of confronting in love, we take on the burdens of others’ mistakes as if they were our own.
I can identify with the idea of being overly nice. You never want to be the person to rock the boat or hurt someone’s feelings. But our ministries suffer when we take an attitude of niceness instead of kindness.
So, how can we change this way of thinking? Here are three ways your ministry can be characterized by godly kindness instead of worldly niceness.
1. Be clear and direct in your communication.
The old saying goes, “Mean what you say and say what you mean.” If you can’t do something, go to a specific event, or even take on a new ministry, be clear about it.
Instead of making that person wait for an answer, tell them directly and be clear about it. Don’t be pressured into saying yes when you know you need to say no.
2. Love others by being truthful.
When was the last time you lied to a person that you needed to be truthful to?
For example, the person who’s doing a horrible job that you continually tell they’re doing great. Everyone around knows it, and so do you, but instead, you say they’re great.
Proverbs 27:6 tells us, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.”
3. Be bold and live to please God.
We can’t please everyone, and chances are you’ll have to tell someone no. You may feel bad about saying no, but sometimes no is the right and proper response.
Instead of being fearful, be bold, and live for God. Saying yes to everyone isn’t the best way to lead. In the end, we aim to glorify God.
We most likely won’t remove nice from our vocabulary, but we can begin to remove the notion of being nice from our everyday lives.
Instead, “as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” (Colossians 3:12).
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.