I’m giving you a long one today. I hope it will be worth your efforts to stick with me through this post and, most importantly, put my suggestions into action. I share the following examples, not to brag on myself, but to demonstrate the power of an encouraging word.
Example 1: I have suite of ear problems that is starting to consume my life. I recently spent a lot of time on a website that helped me get a much better understanding of what I’m dealing with. The site helped me feel like I was not crazy or an ogre. I ended the day by sending the site editor a note of thanks and I told him that I considered what he was doing was a true ministry – blessing lives with information and encouragement. He wrote back, “God bless you too. You have made my day.”
Example 2: A lifetime ago, my wife and I bought a beautiful piece of fine art by an up and coming artist, David Griffin. The art still moves us and I took the time to track him down and thank him for the beauty that brightens our home every day. In response to my note, David wrote back: “I'm really at a loss of what and how to say it. To say I'm humbled by your letter and kind words would be an enormous understatement. For you to take the time to write and make the connection is a testimony to your kind heart.”
If writing an email of kindness and appreciation is all it takes to make a person’s day, then I suppose it should be happening all the time. But I’m not sure how much encouragement is actually occurring. Our world is drowning with “communication”. Every hour, 2.5million Facebook statuses are updated, 2.1million Tweets are twitted, and... get this, every hour 10billion emails are sent. Oh, and Al Gore just invented something new called “snail mail”. There’s ample opportunity to bless one another.
Let’s check in for some encouraging words from our Sponsor:
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:6)
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)
A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23)
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right. circumstances. (Proverbs 25:11)
Followers of Jesus should excel in encouragement. We should distinguish ourselves by building one other up. God in Heaven knows that life on earth is full of perils and disappointments. He should not have to send angels to accomplish what He expects us to do.
Now here’s today’s secret-so-hidden-it’ll-blow-your-mind-when-you-discover-it: EVERY PERSON ON THIS PLANET NEEDS ENCOURAGEMENT. When you see a neighbor working in their yard, thank them for their efforts to keep the neighborhood beautiful. They’d truly like to hear that. When you see a multi-tasking mother in the store, stop and tell her she’s going to survive and thrive. Quietly she wonders if she’s already screwed up this little life. Bless those who work under you, they wonder if you notice their service, but bless your bosses, too. They’re human (yes, really) and they wonder if they’re leading well. I believe if you simply pay attention to the people in your world, you’ll see endless opportunities to bless others.
I’m going to extend this article a bit to weave in two more illustrations. Hang with me, it’s worth it.
Each year in my high-school hometown, Rising Star, Texas, the students cleaned up “the peanut barn” (a hulking WPA-era stone edifice) to host the homecoming carnival. When my tour of duty came, I threw myself into the task because I wanted to get the work over with. I don’t dawdle when it comes to chores. I spent several hours inside and outside the building which was situated across the street from the pool hall where the “town fathers” would spit-n-whittle and play dominoes as the hours passed. When I got home, my dad told me an amazing thing. He said an older man drove up to the house, knocked on the door, and spoke these words, “You’re son is Clark Smith, right? I’ve been at the pool hall watching him. He’s the hardest working young man in this town. I thought you’d like to know.”
WOW! Parents, is a knock at the door about your children EVER a good thing? Well, it was this time. That experience put a mark on me. In a way, I have tried to “return that favor” a thousand times over. (And I wonder if that old man was returning a favor of someone who blessing him along the way.) My quest in life is to bless children to their parents - and vice versa. When I’m at school events and I see a parent of a child I know, I butt right up in their business and I tell them something admirable about their child. Last winter (2011), I took my son and two of his friend to the Kansas state wrestling meet in Wichita. We shared a three hour ride there and then back, four meals together, a night in a hotel, and a day at the arena. As we drove back, I determined to send their parents a note that reads, in part, as follows:
As a father of four sons, I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of the kids in the social networks of my boys. I’ve met several, maybe a couple dozen, who I describe as “dipped in pure gold”. This weekend, I added two more to the list – in fact, Marco and Cole are added at the very top of the list.
I know that all kids can be challenging, especially when they begin to “stink” as Alyse and I call the adolescent years. I’m sure Marco and Cole have their moodiness and self-will. It’s a fact of life. So I’m not telling you they are angels, you know better. But for the 30 or so hours I spent with them Friday and Saturday, I can safely say I have never enjoyed two young men any more. Marco and Cole were courteous, congenial, considerate, and whatever else you’d hope they’d be. I know the boys were there to enjoy one another, but I enjoyed them just as much as they enjoyed each other’s company. I could go on about Marco’s tech-savviness or Cole’s stealthy humor, but I think you get the point. I want you to know that Marco and Cole represented their homes and families perfectly. I thought you’d like to know that. I’ve thought a lot about how to summarize this weekend’s experience... simply put, I was blessed by their character. Moms and Dads, you have done well. The fruits of your parenting labor are borne well by your sons. Well done.
If you’re a parent, can you possibly imagine more encouraging words? And I certainly meant everything I said. (I didn’t change their names because there’s no reason not to celebrate them again from this platform.) Now, if you can imagine hearing words like this, you have just affirmed how important it is to speak words like this. Right now, this very instant, you are thinking of a parent who needs to know that they’ve done well – certainly all parents need to hear that. There are people in every corner of your big word who’s “day would be made” by hearing from you. I beg you, don’t be the kind of person who just hits the LIKE button on Facebook and think you’ve done something positive.
Go! Get connected. Get engaged in positivity today! Be an encouragement donor. Maybe someday there’ll be a knock on your door and the person will just say “Thank you. You made my day.”
Clark H Smith