Diann and I are among the crowd gathered at a cross country meet to encourage the runners. We, of course, are there to encourage our grandson Casey, the runner in maroon, # 550. He looks like he’s encouraged!
The people that have impacted my life most in a positive way are not those who’ve criticized me, though honest criticism can and should be helpful and constructive. The people most helpful in my life have been those who have encouraged me. I’ve needed lots of encouragers over the years, about ten encouragers to every one critic. That’s because criticism seems to stick a lot easier than does praise!
The bad news is that we can’t ultimately control the ratio of criticism and encouragement we receive. True, if we try to do our best and seek to do what’s good and right, we can hope to receive more praise than criticism; but it doesn’t always work out that way.
The good news is that we can control the ratio of criticism and encouragement we dish out to those around us! Other people are no different than you and me; they love encouragement far more than criticism. And they, like us, are more likely to respond in a favorable way to praise and continue on that course of action than they are to criticism and change their course of action.
There’s an old proverb that first appeared in printed form in Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac” in 1744. It goes like this, “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.”
This is a tough world; everyone we encounter needs encouragement! People need to hear from us: “You’re doing a great job!” “I really appreciated what you said.” “You did the right thing in that situation.” “__________.” (fill in the blank) My personal experience has been that when I consciously try to be an encourager to those I meet in my daily activities it boomerangs on me and I feel encouraged!
I recommend an experiment of intentionally, for one day, by face-to-face contact, phone call, texting, or letter, communicating something encouraging to everyone with whom you come in contact! I know, with some folks it’ll take some effort, but try to do so anyway. I believe you’ll be pleased with what a difference it will make in your day!
People should give us the nickname Barnabas! Why? That’s what the people in the early church did to a guy named Joseph, from Cyprus. “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)…” Acts 4:36