My wife and I just returned from a trip to Scotland we took with a number of other Presbyterian pastors and church members. This trip was put together as part of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
Scotland is the home base of Presbyterianism, mostly because of the work of John Knox in the mid-1500s. My side of the family hails from one of the old clans in Scotland. It was fun looking for various ways "our" tartan was on display in stores and other places.
While there, we learned a great deal more about the Reformation, John Knox, and the history of that time. We saw wonderful sights in God’s creation, both natural and human-made.
And we met wonderful people. Our encounters with people in Scotland left an indelible impression on us. Everyone, literally, that we encountered when we sought assistance or directions was polite, courteous and helpful. An interruption of their work or whatever they were doing was not seen as an imposition, but a chance to be helpful.
People driving on the roads were courteous and polite. Most of the roads were single-lane roads. If two cars met coming toward each other, the driver that was closest to a spot on the shoulder to pull over did so, with a wave of good wishes, even if it meant they had to back up a little. Drivers stopped for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Their politeness awoke within us even more of our own politeness as we continued to encounter strangers willing to help us out.
A lesson here is one that Jesus emphasized in his ministry: "Do to others as you would have others do to you." The people in Scotland were polite to us, and we responded in kind.
It has been said, "You reap what you sow." It is true. A little kindness and generosity go a long way. And you may never know what a positive impact you may have on someone.
If you desire to have others treat you with more kindness, you will first need to show them kindness. It may take a while for folks to catch on, but the more kindness you show to others, the more they will eventually show kindness toward you.
I have been asked if I would ever go back to visit Scotland again. My response is, "Absolutely!"
And I would look forward to again being among the kind, gentle people of my heritage.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.