(FYI…the verses at the end are the best part of this post, so PLEASE read them!)
Once again, I’m going to share something that may seem trivial, obvious, or just a “whatever” topic to some, but I think is of utmost importance.
Let’s be honest…people are critical. I am critical. I would go as far as to say that this is one of the most destructive things we can do to ourselves and to each other.
It keeps coming up in my life lately…in my relationship, my book study, and today during a phone conversation with a woman I am so inspired by…and who inspired me to write this post. This woman is one of the most encouraging women I know. I’ve known her for less than a year and see her seldom, and she still manages to be one of the most encouraging people I’ve met… and it’s sincere.
During our chat today, she opened my eyes to something that had never occurred to me before. Look in the new testament and see how many verses you find about our call to encourage one another. The only verses you find that deal with being critical or “calling out” someone on an issue generally have to do with major sin issues.
I feel like in our culture, there is such a push for “constructive criticism,” but rarely do we teach the importance of verbally encouraging and lifting one another up. Granted, I do think it’s difficult to know how to lovingly criticize, and something we need to learn to do. However, I think it’s EQUALLY as difficult to know how to speak words of affirmation and encouragement. What’s easiest is to say nothing. But in this world that is constantly sending messages that we need to work harder, be better, and earn our right to success, worth, etc., I believe that in the silences when there is a lack of encouragement, we often hear voices of discouragement.
This issue is something I am SO passionate about right now. All I know is that SO often I think wonderful thoughts about people, and either don’t say them, or only tell someone else. WHY IN THE WORLD would I not tell that person! They may have no idea otherwise! OR, they may hear a voice trying to convince them of the opposite of that very positive thought I’m having about them.
And why would we NOT focus more on our strengths than our weaknesses?! Gosh, I sure hope we all realize we’ve got weaknesses, and of course we should seek to grow some in these areas. But seriously…we’ve also all got GIFTS…and THOSE are what we should mull over, grow in, and live out more than anything. That’s where our greatest passions will be realized and we will truly come alive…WHEN WE LIVE OUT OUR STRENGTHS! And then…just maybe we can depend on others whose strengths are our weaknesses to be there as a support…that is SO contrary to how we often operate.
I’m going to end here for now and share some snippets from 1 Thessalonians 5 from The Message version of the Bible. It has to do with how the Body of Christ should work together as they live out their faith, but I just LOVE what it says:
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
12-13And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
13-15Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part… Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Lay it on me.