Every Wednesday night at church for the last 6 weeks, Todd has been facilitating a class by Andy Stanley called Life Apps. Sadly, we wrapped up this class with our last session on 'encouragement'. (I have LOVED this class, the people and the discussions we've had, and Todd & I have genuinely missed anyone who was not able to make it to every session!!)
In this last session, we learned that, in conversation, there are (6) criticisms to every (1) encouragement. That is a stunning ratio, in my opinion.
I have challenged myself today to reverse that ratio, and I have already failed.
The words 'we must edify & build up' come out of my mouth almost daily and, as a general rule, I try to be a person who encourages. But have I really made a conscious effort to be intentional with my encouragement?
This 'encouragement' session has made me try to focus more on the words that flow from my mouth. This is a good rule of thumb for everyone in every capacity, whether you are a parent, spouse, teacher, preacher, employer, employee, friend, etc. etc. Every word we say has an impact for good or bad on others and, even in kidding, we could possibly bring death to someone without even being aware of it....or we could bring life!
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue ..." Proverbs 18:21
Negative, discouraging or disparaging words ... EVERYONE suffers from them...even the messenger.
Encouraging words ... EVERYONE benefits from them ... even the messenger!
Have you ever spoken encouragement into someone's life?
How did they react?
Did they......Turn and run?... Punch you in the face? ... Refuse to speak to you any more? ... (You get the idea.)...
On the contrary. Most likely, those words spoke life into them making their eyes sparkle, giving them an extra skip in their step the rest of the day and a smile on their face for days to come.
How about discouraging words or negative remarks ... in what direction have words of this manner steered your conversation or affected the attitude or demeanor of yourself or others?
My 'thing' as of late has been to 'find joy in every day'.
We can be so easily swayed by the negatives found in the 'daily' that it can be difficult, at times, to be sensitive to the joy that's waiting to be discovered.
The same could be said of encouragement.
It can be easier to spew off that joke, or to be comically critical or sarcastic, or to continually give constructive criticism all the while thwarting the positive power of encouragement.
The scripture used in this Life Apps session was one of my absolute favorites!! -- Proverbs 11:25 - "...He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
My favorite version of this verse is "...those who water others will himself be watered."
I've always used this in relation to spiritual knowledge - as one who gleans this knowledge passing it on to others. As so many have passed on their knowledge to me - I try to pass on down to others what I have gleaned. I will now apply it to encouragement as well!
My challenge to you, and most importantly to myself, is to be that watering hole for others to which they can come and be watered and refreshed....to those who might deserve it AND to those who might not. Let's face it...it's effortless to encourage those who we feel deserve it. Equally so for the seemingly undeserved, we must find a way to love on them and encourage them likewise.
I would MUCH rather be a watering hole than be a pit of despair or discouragement!
"He who waters others will himself be watered."
I pray you be refreshed today as you refresh others!