Tag Archives: Kindness

Smiling: a basic social skill, by Lynn McCann

10 May

Writing in response to this week’s friendliness challengeLynnMcann, Lynn McCann asks: what’s in a smile?

I must admit that this week’s God52 challenge made me smile… well that’s what we’re being asked to do!

I work with children who have autism.  It is a social disability.  Some of them have missed out on the early development of social skills that most of us take for granted.  Therefore I spend a lot of time assessing children’s social skill ability and putting teaching programmes in place that teach the basic social skills step by step.  Children without autism learn these things naturally through interaction with their parents, carers and other children.

So what is in a smile?

We usually begin by giving eye contact, our facial muscles form the smile and we pause long enough to wait for a reaction by the other person. If we are feeling confident we might add a greeting. We then pause ever-so-briefly again to wait for a reply.  If all goes well you and the other person can then comfortably move on or start an extended interaction that might develop into full-blown conversation.

What has happened is a two-way communication. Maybe it is something you take for granted and that comes very naturally to you. Maybe you feel a little awkward but can make yourself do it if you think about it. Maybe you’ve just got out of the habit.

What we as humans receive from a smile is a message that says, “I acknowledge you. I am taking my focus away from myself for a moment and giving my attention to you. You have significance and I am showing pleasure in connecting with you.”

However brief this may be, the person on the receiving end can be built up, drawn out of loneliness or sadness. They may smile back, and that can release endorphins in the brain that lifts a mood. A smile can be quite powerful.

One of the joys of my work is receiving a smile from a child with autism that is purposely directed at me. It may be in response to something I’ve given them, something we did together or even better, in response to seeing me. It makes my heart sing.

When we smile at others we are sharing a reflection of our heavenly Father. God smiles down on his people because Jesus has dealt with all our sins and now we can enter into a wonderful relationship with him.  If we want others to know how much God loves them…then a smile can reflect his thoughts, open hearts and lead to great communication.

Lynn McCann is a wife, mum to two teenagers, and an ASD teacher who loves Jesus with all her heart. She blogs at http://includedbygrace.wordpress.com about faith, life, and sharing the gospel with people with learning disabilties and ASD.


God 52 – Week Nineteen (7/4/13)

8 May

Good-Morning-VietnamThis week’s challenge is – on the face of it – one of the easiest and most straightforward so far. But since I’ve already embarked on it (you could say I’ve been beta testing), let me tell you: it really isn’t. Or at least, it really isn’t for a sour old curmudgeon like me.

Here it is – a challenge all about friendliness and kindness (two marvelous virtues, right?):

19: Say ‘Good Morning’ to as many people as you can, every morning for a week.

It’s so simple, it almost feels like we’re cheating you. All you have to do is evade the natural predisposition to adopt the thousand-yard-stare as you pass strangers on the street. Instead, you just have to smile and greet them.

It’s tragic, isn’t it, that this is so radically counter-cultural for some of us? In some parts of the UK, where I live, we simply don’t do this anymore. In fact, some people think you’re a bit weird if you do. But as some tiny first step towards improving the sense of community where you live, why not buck the trend for a week?

Say good morning. Smile. Heaven forbid, you might even start a conversation. I’ve tried it – it’s not easy (at least for me). But it could be so important in reducing that person’s sense of isolation, fear or despair. You simply have no idea what God might do through two simple words…

It’s morning soon. Are you up for the challenge?

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on friendliness, please read our writing guidelines, then drop me an email.

Loving by listening, by Dave Pickett

19 Apr

Student Dave responds to this week’s love-your-community challenge with a simple but innovative idea…

davepickettShowing the love of God in our local area is something that’s been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while. If I’m honest it’s probably been something that’s quite low down on that list to, with the extensive list of emails to write, people to see, things to do…

But, little did I know that this week God would put it back up the agenda in a big way. I was sat in my office on Monday afternoon planning our next youth event and decided to poke my head out the door as I had heard Chris Duffet (Baptist President) was running some kind of evangelism workshop in the Church hall and, having met him at a conference a few weeks back, thought it would be good to say hello again. Accompanied by another team member we decided to sit in, observe and grab a coffee after a day’s planning.

An hour later I find myself sat on a bench we had moved from Church outside McDonalds equipped with only a blackboard inscribed with ‘I Will Listen’. Once my team member and I had settled into our seats, (a bench is only so comfortable!) the flow of people began. An hour later we had spoken with over 30 people, mainly young people, about life, the universe and everything in it and about it. Wow. People asked why anyone would give up their time just to listen to people on the streets and we replied that we just wanted to show people that their was someone out there who cared and loved them.

I’ve been thinking up new ideas, adapting old thoughts on showing the love of God to my local area for a while but nothing has clicked like this did – this was it.

I had got caught up in trying to over think showing God’s love when all it took was a bit of chalk and a blackboard; planned in under 10 minutes. Simplicity, showing the love of God doesn’t need to start with a lengthy strategic plan.

Back to the office to plan for our week of prayer, I’m filled with a new passion to show the love of God in my local area and am thankful for having experienced how simple it can be.

Dave Pickett is the Youth Director of Change Youth (@changeyouthuk) & a Geography student with a heart for seeing young people grow deeper and being equipped and a Church engaged in local mission. He enjoys playing music, designing stuff and running. You can follow his twitter: @dspickett

God 52 – Week Three (15/1/13)

15 Jan

Hello! Good morning!  Welcome to week three of God52. If you’re anything like me you’ll have just about scraped the final few minutes of last week’s three hours of prayer at 11:55pm last night. If you didn’t manage it, don’t feel guilty. Please. Join us in moving on to challenge number three.

A couple of things happened when Martin and I were discussing this week’s challenge. Firstly I got a direct message on twitter from someone telling me that they felt they needed to pray for me. Secondly, just as I got the email from Martin with a suggestion for the challenge, I was reading this passage in Matthew 9:

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

This week we want to challenge ourselves to practice one of the most counter-cultural characteristics around – humility.

Humility seems a lot easier to talk about than it is to live out. Not only is the entire world seemingly bent on raising their profile, but they want credit for every little thing they do. I should rephrase that: Not only is the entire world seemingly bent on raising their profile, but we want credit for every little thing we do. You see it on Twitter all the time: ‘I’ve just written this blog.’ ‘I just did this.’ ‘I’m praying for this person.’ Knowingly or not, both our online and offline profiles seem to revolve around our achievements.

Compare this to these two occurrences. This twitter user (who I’ll keep nameless) could have publicly tweeted me to say that, and a few people may have noticed how Godly that person was. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that I needed prayer and this person prayed.

Jesus healed two blind men and told them to keep it on the down-low. Not just to keep it quiet who had done it, not just to point glory to God, but to keep the whole thing quiet. This wasn’t about drawing attention to something amazing and generous, this was about God impacting people’s lives. This was about the Kingdom of God breaking into Earth, not public acclaim. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus would try to be as provocative as possible if he had a twitter account. He certainly wouldn’t go out of his way to build his follower numbers.

And so, with all that in mind, this week’s challenge is this:

3: Perform an anonymous act of kindness

Or several. We are called to love for the sake of loving, to love like nobody’s watching, to love because we can. This week, show people that they are loved in a radical way, and don’t tell anyone about it. If you can help it, don’t even tell them.

You don’t need much more than that do you? Run with it. Share God’s love as widely as you can and may you be graced with the knowledge that God works through you to change the world. May you be graced with the gift of humility and the knowledge that all of this is much bigger than you.