If asked, I'm sure that you would be able to come up with a handful of people who breathe life into you. This has been something that I've been meditating on for that last couple of weeks. It all began with a brilliant sermon by our Pastor two Sundays ago. I love our church ... and I've been finding myself challenged over and over again by the team there. Whether it's Sunday morning, the Recovery Service ... whether it's just conversations with other church friends or even in my own "quiet time" ...
But Pastor Brent's sermon deserved a standing ovation. He spoke on "Words of Life", and so so much of what he said hit home to me. I'd like to share a few of those ideas that really impacted my own life, my own thought process.
One thing he asked was, "what is the verbal tone in your home?". And I felt an "oh boy" rise in my spirit. Oh sure, there are good days and bad days - but what is the overall TONE? What will my kids remember? Will it be nit-picking? Will it be exasperated responses to the millionth question of the day? Will it be a sense of "irk" when my hubby's late, or has decided to do something before completing a task that I've hounded him for? Will it be that I was always saying "just gimme a sec" while I tried to finish something up?
I hope I'm not alone here *blush*.
I thought "tone" was such a good word. It's not a condemning word, it's not a judgemental word. It doesn't mean it's all bad and that there's chaos and anger everywhere ... "tone". A good word to use ...
Another thing Pastor Brent touched on was "withholding encouraging words". Now, there are people in this world who are just NATURAL encouragers. You know them, the ones who are quick to compliment and uplift. And the older I get, the more I realize that really anyone can be like that - if they choose. He talked of the damage of "withholding" encouraging words, as a family member, friend, parent. And he was SO bang on. What is it that sometimes makes us say, "I'm not going to compliment that ... " or "... they already know they've done that well " and we don't say anything. I don't say anything.
Maybe it comes from envy ... if you're wanting to lose weight, it can be hard to compliment someone who is without sounding a little bitter, " ... oh? really? you're down 3lbs? oh ... that's great *insert smile*." Or someone got a job promotion and it just irks you a little because you don't really think they're qualified, or you think it's selfish and they're going to be more away from their family or whatever. Or maybe you find it so difficult to say that someone else did something well, because you feel that their motives are wrong - that they are arrogant, that they are striving for attention ... Maybe you withhold encouragement, because someone else's accomplishments somehow feels like a spotlight on your own shortcomings. Maybe you think your words don't matter ... who would even notice if they were missing?
We've all felt it. No? I know I have.
But Pastor Brent was so right when he said that withholding encouragement, simply put, is selfish. And as I listened, I saw such truth in that. He talked about how some feel like they're preventing "a big head" from someone by withholding encouragement, or that the person really "doesn't need to hear" their words. And that's a lie ... no one - NO one - can ever have to much encouragement, enough cheering on. And not, like, in a narcissistic way ... and he wasn't talking about receiving these words, he was talking about GIVING them. Holding back from saying Words of Life, is lonely. I mean, who wants to be around someone who doesn't breathe life into them? Not many of us, I'm sure.
Who Do You Know?:
I often talk about exercising the "muscle" of whatever. Like, hosting. I tell friends who are nervous about having anyone over, that it's a muscle that gets stronger the more you do it. Start small, but don't give up. You don't have to be Martha ... you can order pizza and sit on the couch with your company.
In the same way, I'm learning that being an "encourager" is also a muscle that some need to exercise more than others ... like me. It's not a great characteristic to admit to, but I'm working on it :-). I'm taking time to stop and be purposeful in encouraging one person a day ... and as that gets more and more common for me, it's going to be more natural for me to do that to more people, daily. That's the plan *grin*.
And that leads to one of the final points that hit home for me from Pastor Brent: "who do you know that you could breathe life into??" He asked us to think about it, to make a point of it this summer. To be known as an encourager, to breathe life.
So ... this is something that I thought was perfect timing for me. Really. And I can truthfully say that it was like a spring cleaning of my heart. I want to be an encourager, I want to be known as someone who cheers others on - not to just be the "reality check" every time (which, let's face it, is a lot of who I am ...).
And God made me logical and not super ooey-gooey ... and I think that's ok. I don't have to be sappy to encourage ... I just have to lay down my own insecurities and my own "black and white" list ...
And exercise the right muscle.
I hope that you are encouraged by this ... and I truly hope, that you have a great one!
** if you are interested in hearing Pastor Brent's sermon in full (which is about 25minutes long and worth listening to over and over again!) ... please go to our church's website at www.clachurch.com. Then, click "get a sermon" on the left hand side; then choose "JUNE 12: Words of Life." I HIGHLY recommend it ... and I would love to know if you did, and to hear your thoughts on it ...! **