Good news! October is National Manners & Character Month! Who ever thought we’d need a whole month to be reminded to live with good manners and to be kind and to be civil? National Manners Month was first celebrated in 2003 in Abbotsford and then in 2009, Vancouver City Hall proclaimed October as National Manners Month.
Let’s come together and celebrate the 19th Annual National Manners & Character Month. Let’s pray that, through our kindness, good manners and character, God can help us impact our families and communities with laughter, joy, and kindness. Let’s pray that God’s love can flow through our attitudes, words, and actions to everyone we meet, through what we do, and say, and think. My mother used to tell us five kids to imagine that our life is like an empty glove that the Holy Spirit can come in and fill with Himself – so that He can bless others through us.
It has been said that “manners are the oil that lubricate society.” They just make everything work more smoothly… from our homes to playgrounds… and boardrooms… to the City Hall or Parliament. Manners matter, no matter how old we are or where we live. Our manners are the outward expression of our inward character.
Renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Smiley Blanton, observed that “90 percent of my counselling was the direct result of parents failing to teach their children manners – manners being more than just how to hold a knife and fork. It’s deportment and civility; it’s concern for others.”
So how do we start? Good manners are a good way to show others that we care! When our children see us living with good manners and kindness, they will see the joy created and want to follow our example. They too will experience the delight that their kindness and good manners bring to others, inspiring them to do even more acts of kindness and to live more intentionally with good manners and respect.
As we learn to put others first and show respect and honour to each other, family members will know they are valued, respected, and essential. Now, more than ever, we need each other, and we need to focus on building bridges of kindness to heal broken relationships.
One tool that we at The Manners Club have been using for the past few years is to teach children (and grownups) about the power of Kindness Keys to restore relationships. There are three Keys of Kindness that we can use to bless our families and our community. Scripture tells us that “out of the heart, man speaks,” and also we are reminded, “faith without works is dead.”
If we commit to bringing our Kindness Keys everywhere we go, we can capture and lock up the bad attitudes, words, and actions that are bringing division, cruelty, and hate into our culture and our communities.
The Kind Attitude Key:
The Kind Attitude Key is the most powerful key, as our attitude affects our words and our actions. Kind Attitudes start in our heart and in our mind. If there is goodness and joy in our heart, then goodness and joy will bubble up inside and pop out our eyeballs! However, if anger and bitterness are festering in our heart, then anger and bitterness will be like an acidic sludge inside of us and they will be like evil daggers flashing from your mean eyes.
We want to be filled with joy and be an energy giver. Everyone loves to be around someone who is like a Fuzzy Wuzzy Heart. But too many people have never learned the freedom that comes from living with joy, and sadly, they become energy takers. They have a terrible attitude, and they are very negative to be around, draining others of joy.
A Kind Attitude includes living by The Golden Rule. Every world culture has their own version of the famous Golden Rule found in St. Matthew, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t gossip. Sounds like the 10 Commandments that were on my classroom wall at my public school growing up in Ontario. That’s what good manners are all about! If you want people to be nice to you… be nice to them! If you want people to say nice things about you… say nice things about them!
Respectful and Kind Words Key
The second Kindness Key is the Kind Words Key. The Scripture tell us that “out of the heart man speaks.” The more modern way of saying this is “garbage In and garbage out!” If you put good things in your mind and heart, then good things will come out of your mouth. If you put bad things in your mind and heart, then bad things will come out of your mouth.
Everyone loves kind words. Encouraging words. Build up words. Like the Five Fabulous Phrases that can change the world: “Please” “Thank You!” “You’re welcome” “Excuse Me” and “I’m Sorry.”
We all remember our mother’s comforting words when we fell off our bike or had a hard day at school. Loving words. Encouraging words. Words that calm us. Words that build us up. Assuring words that take away fear. We also know the horrific devasting effect of mean, tear-down words.
Words are powerful. They can bring light into people’s lives, or they can bring darkness and despair. Our words come from our heart attitudes, and if we had self-control, we could stop the bad words before they came off our tongue. But most of us don’t have strong enough self-control.
Throughout history, people have looked for ways to tame the tongue. St. James wrote, “No one can tame the tongue.” It is a small part of our body, but it can do a huge amount of good, or it can do a huge amount of damage. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, acknowledged that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Let’s choose words of life. Let’s choose encouraging, life-giving words, rather than tear-down, life-sapping words. A little prayer that my mother often said was, “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough.”
Let’s be intentional to remember kind attitudes and kind words, and they will develop into kind actions.
Respectful and Kind Actions Key
The Third Kindness Key puts the attitude and words into ACTION!
Actions matter – a friendly hello, or a firm handshake, offering your seat, or a thankful attitude. A former marine who served in Viet Nam, David Courson, once told me, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.
So, whether we are talking with our children, our family, our neighbors, or colleagues at work, let’s remember our three Kindness Keys: Kind Attitude Key, Kind Words Key, and Kind Actions Key and pour that beautiful “oil of civility” over our families and our communities to bring healing and wholeness back into our relationships, and to keep our nation from falling further into chaos and confusion…for such a time as this.