Gentleness is often confused with weakness. However, this fruit of the Holy Spirit of God is anything but weak. It involves the inner strength to temper a response, even in the midst of a stressful or chaotic environment, or when approached by someone who is out of control.
Krista Stuhr serves on the Connection Center team and as a Deaconess at Ventura Missionary Church. She models beautifully this kind of gentle strength. We spent some time with Krista to see how God has developed this fruit of the Spirit in her life.
Krista, what does gentleness mean to you?
For me, gentleness is turning over my will in submission and trying to do what would be pleasing to God. It is asking myself, “How would Jesus react in this situation?” I ask God each morning to fill me with His Spirit for that day. Because of this, I think my actions reflect the Holy Spirit within me. This is not always the case, as those close to me would say. It’s not easy, but I try to give each day to the Lord. I’ve found that the longer I walk in cooperation with Christ, the more it becomes who I am.
As you interact with people, what helps you to respond with gentleness, even when the other person might be difficult in some way or when you are being “squeezed” by the pressures around you? What happens when you don’t choose gentleness?
I think God has gifted me with gentleness. I find it is natural for me if I have asked Him to fill me with His Spirit. I have a lot of compassion for people. I have been through low places in my life, and I feel like God leads me to others who might need encouragement or help. I try to be obedient to God when He guides me to others. I don’t always know what I will say to them, but I lean on Him to show me what to say.
When I don’t respond in gentleness, then there is anger, conflict, and hurt feelings.
How did gentleness play a role in your parenting, and now as you watch your grandkids several times a week?
God was very necessary in parenting. We had four kids in 7 years – 3 boys and 1 girl. My kids could tell you that things were out of control on many days. Basically, I tried to calm things down. As parents, my husband and I couldn’t remedy every conflict. I tried to do the best I could, let the unimportant things go, and realize tomorrow was a new day. Of course, I relied on prayer for God to give us strength for that day.
My grandkids are a different story! They are such an unexpected delight and blessing in our lives. Of course, we spoil them a bit, but, I find I am more tolerant and patient with them than I was with my own kids. I don’t really get upset with their behavior. I know they are going home in a few hours, so my time is precious with them.
Proverbs 15:1 says that a gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. How have you experienced this principle in your life?
I used to try to defend myself if I was accused of something. That doesn’t work. My approach now is to be quiet for a time. It used to be that I would never admit that I was wrong. Now, if I know I was wrong, I’ve learned to say, “I’m sorry; I know I was wrong.” It just feels so much better.
How do you think gentleness could play a positive role in today’s divided climate?
Today’s climate won’t change until people try to understand one another. Pointing fingers at other people isn’t productive. I think dialog is important – talking things out. If you wrong someone, ask for forgiveness.
How would you describe God’s gentleness – toward you?
God has always shown gentleness toward me, even when I didn’t deserve it. He always gives me one more chance to make things right. This gives me a model of how I should treat others.
How do you personally connect with Jesus, the Vine, the source of the ability to submit to strength in a posture of meekness, no matter what is happening?
Every day I pray for God to fill me with the Holy Spirit to guide me through that day and be obedient to His voice. I try to read God’s Word daily. I am always amazed at God’s wisdom for living a life that matters.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Part of how God has guided me toward a life that matters is through service. I would encourage others to serve in how God guides them. Everyone is gifted in some way. Pair what you love to do with how God is calling you – then you’ll love the service! I love serving at the Connection Center and when I do, I look for ways to encourage people.
It is evident that Krista expresses outwardly what God is doing in her heart. Her gentle, compassionate presence displays God’s character to those around her. It's just what happens when you trust in the gentle strength of the One who has the power to calm any storm - and to calm anyone in the middle of a storm for as long as it rages.