An Unexpected Life Lesson from Charles Stanley
After waking up for the first time on a cruise ship and enjoying a blissful breakfast overlooking the Pacific, it was time for the ‘main course’. After all, this wasn’t just any Alaska cruise. This was a Christian cruise with In Touch Ministries featuring Dr. Charles Stanley—a man I have listened to my entire life—and, for the first time, was about to hear in person.
As my friend and I filed into the main auditorium for the Sunday morning service, we shared how excited we were and how much we admired Dr. Stanley as a man of God. “There’s just something about him…” my voice trailed off as I tried to pinpoint it, “…I don’t know what exactly it is.” She, too, searched for the right word. Of course his extensive knowledge of Scripture came to mind, along with his undeniable love for the Lord. But I knew there was something less apparent I was trying to describe; a certain quality that’s as refreshing as it is rare. “Maybe it’s humility?”
And with that, we found our way to our seats for worship. After being led in a few well-loved hymns, Dr. Stanley was introduced and took the podium. He greeted us and announced the topic of his message that day. Kindness.
Of course it didn’t take me long to realize I had just been given the word that, moments earlier, I had been wracking my brain for. One of, if not the defining characteristic of Dr. Stanley is his kindness. All 1,951 passengers who joined the cruise this week would, I’m sure, describe Charles Stanley as ‘a giant of the faith.’ Though now, it will be hard for me not to think of him as a gentle giant of the faith.
A Gentle Giant
Kindness is a topic we tend not to hear a lot about, Dr. Stanley observed. It gets overlooked and dismissed as unimportant. But this quality has served as a guidepost throughout his life.
He relayed a story of when he was a small child and shouted something less than charitable toward his mother. His mother paused, turned to him and stated simply, ‘Charles, the Bible tells us to be kind to one another.’
They were words he never forgot and a truth he would come to know and cherish deeply.
Quoting the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, he said that kindness, similarly to other fruits like patience, peace and self-control, should be something we possess in increasing measure throughout our walks with the Lord. He also pointed out the kindness Jesus showed to everyone He met, including little children. (Those who know kids understand that children would never have been drawn to someone who wasn’t.)
Dr. Stanley shared stories from his own life of times when he was being criticized or ill-treated. He would consciously remind himself to stay quiet. Think before answering. Never raise his voice. He described kindness as a “silent weapon,” and credited it as part of the victory of every battle he remembers fighting.
How inspirational to think that this humble strategy played a role in the making of a ministry that has reached millions around the world!
Looking out over the crowd who had come from all over to hear this sermon, Dr. Stanley shared one of the best-kept secrets of his life philosophy, “Kindness conquers.”
Great words from a great, and kind, man.