Winning others with love

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2019

By Tonya S. Swindell

My co-worker may not realize it, but she is teaching me how to love others. As I follow her lead and the example provided by other individuals whom I respect, I can learn how to accept people unconditionally. That simple act of mercy may attract people to the greatest love of all.

I am impressed when I watch the conscientious way in which my co-worker, Jackie, interacts with others. While working as an occupational therapist skilled at evaluating and treating patients with hand injuries, she connects with each client in a manner that is respectful, friendly and unique.

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If the patient enjoys light-hearted conversation, Jackie happily obliges. If the individual responds to a more quiet, calming approach, my co-worker adapts without jeopardizing the therapeutic value of the session. At least partially due to the caring attitude with which Jackie honors people’s differences, each patient seems to feel respected and invested in achieving a good outcome.

When a friend commented about our need to focus on things we have in common instead of dwelling on our differences, I aspired to become more accepting of others. I also reflected on the loving example set by my mother. Even if she doesn’t agree with my choices, she remains consistent and loving.

My dad also adapted to the uniqueness of individuals in various settings. He was the senior pastor of a historic African American church. For many years, he also served as the football coach, assistant principal and driver’s education teacher for a public high school. Former students said he was a kind but fair disciplinarian.

At home, Daddy had a strong but gentle presence. He told family members how proud he was of their accomplishments. He also provided guidance, correction and protection.

When Daddy went to local repair shops or dealerships, his interactions were less formal but still professional. He was not a big talker, but people listened and respected him. At his funeral, someone shared how Daddy once said, “I have two ears and one mouth, so I try to listen twice as much as I speak.”

While reflecting on my desire to win others through loving acceptance, the Apostle Paul’s words translated in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 of The Message Bible gave me further inspiration. The passage says, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized — whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ — but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.”

“I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”

Tonya Swindell is an occupational therapist. She is also a teacher for Kingdom Building Institute ( She can be reached at