When Nice Isn’t Nice
October 11, 2021
As Christians in our present society, we feel responsibility to represent our heavenly Father who created us in His image and called us to be His children, the human signposts pointing all those around us to Him. What does this look like in our lives as Christian healthcare professionals in the public square?
In front of colleagues with whom we learn and collaborate, staff whom we manage, authorities to whom we answer and patients whom we serve, it can be challenging to know what it means to be a proper Christian, walking in a manner worthy of our calling.
In addition to the baseline standards of professionalism and ethics, we are encouraged to be politically correct, likeable, even “marketable”—essentially, nice Christian healthcare professionals. In her devotional series Nice, Sharon Hodde Miller points out that our culture prizes niceness as a virtue because it keeps the peace, wins friends, gains influence and serves our reputation. Yet, it can distract us from our testimony, from bearing spiritual fruit and from living by faith.
Truly, in our experience as clinicians, how many times have we smiled to a patient’s face knowing fully well we would have the urge to talk badly about them as soon as they exited the room? How many times have we refrained from honesty to placate a superior? How many white lies (or even boldfaced ones) have we told or made invalid excuses for people because we didn’t want to rock the boat with them in the workplace?
Niceness may appear positive, but its fruit can be inauthenticity, cowardice, shallowness, self-righteousness and corruption. We need to ask ourselves if our “nice” actions are motivated by self-serving interests rather than genuine kindness and care toward others. In the face of adversity or lack of reciprocity, will your niceness buckle, or will true kindness maintain its backbone?
Yes, per Galatians 5:22-23, the fruits of the spirit indeed include kindness and gentleness. Christians should be honorable, lovely and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8-9). However, the source and motive of these outward characteristics need to be purified. The image of niceness is alluring, but unless we produce true fruit of the Spirit, God is still calling us to much more. Instead of defaulting to “nice,” may we pray for God to make us bold, obedient, truthful and kind.