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Compassion Is A Verb

Today Facebook reminded me of a “Slightly Irregular” post I wrote four years ago. I have transferred it here to my new blog, “Love Leads” because its subject, Gene Rice, is the quintessential example and role model for this kind of authentic leadership: “If I lead without love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13). And his leadership exemplifies balance and centeredness, the theme of this ongoing series. Enjoy!

Colonel Gene Rice has been "Promoted to Glory." Today as I reflect upon his life, the phrase "Compassion In Action" comes to mind. I quickly amend it to more descriptively fit his actions: "Compassion In Radical Action." Those who knew him will quickly agree.

Another phrase comes to mind; one that I coined when writing my book, Lean Right, Love Left: Balancing the Body: "Compassionate Radicalism." I describe it in part this way:

"The emphasis here is on the "hurt" as opposed to the condition that created the hurt… Medical and social researchers take the condition seriously, whilst Christians take the hurt seriously. In Pharaoh's time the law was all that mattered. In Christ's time compassion mattered more. Compassion is the preemptive counterpunch that will topple the forces of evil. You can't get more radical than that!"

Gene Rice took the hurt seriously; he was radically compassionate. I go on to write:

"Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gene Rice emulated the radicalism of Jesus. The first two are household names, whilst the third is a virtual unknown by comparison. His radicalism was no less effective, though. I know because I witnessed it in action. There were many times when I saw him take the hurt of another seriously and then "dare to act upon his concern against the entire numbness of his social context." He was a rising star in his denomination and this brand of radicalism did not sit well with leaders and peers. It made them uncomfortable when he ignored the sinful condition and focused on the hurt. It ruffled feathers when he broke with protocol and dared to err on the side of compassion.

Consequently, it adversely affected his upward mobility within the organization. He is one of those rare individuals who had discovered the balance. His faith is exclusive (never did he err doctrinally), whilst his compassion is all-inclusive. His is a magnanimous, forbearing, aggressively forgiving spirit. The Gene Rice's out there seldom make the headlines, but without them, the church will lose its credibility and fast fade into antiquity, as we are witnessing left and right.

Ironically, long after retirement, Colonel Gene Rice, a Salvation Army Officer, was awarded "The Order of the Founder," the organization's highest award given to those who have emulated William Booth, the Founder of The Salvation Army's vision: "Go for souls and go for the worst!" This commendation far outranks the velvet epaulet attached to a Commissioner's or General's shoulder (my own included). It took awhile, but the organization got it right.

Colonel Gene Rice is one of my radical heroes. With this writing, I pay him tribute.

NOTE: A copy of the above mentioned book is available free. Click on “Our Centerpieces” above for the PDF download.


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