It’s so important to have relationships that thrive, those closest to us will ultimately help us to live as a masterpiece or cause us to live as a forgery. The choice of those relationships and developing those relationships is in our hands. Here are 3 fundamental choices for assuring your relationships build you up and you build others up.
Fundamental #1: Encourage, don’t discourage
In order to have great people skills it’s imperative to always encourage, don’t discourage. Some people act like God has given them the gift of criticism. The Bible does not list criticism as a gift, criticism only leads to discouragement. Paul said, “So encourage each other and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Notice Paul didn’t say, “Here’s a good idea. Try to encourage one another every once in a while.” He was emphatic in his statement. This is the way you are to live. The more you encourage others, the more they will encourage you in return.
Fundamental #2: Be Authentic
If you are a self-proclaimed critic, you probably have very few friends because no one likes to be around others who are always critical. “But that’s just who I am,” you may say. Change! It’s keeping you from your destiny. Be disciplined in this area. God has given you the Spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:23). If you are a natural encourager, be sure to be authentic. “If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.” (Romans 12:8) If your encouragement is not sincere, it will feel like a bait and switch. For the sake of wanting to be encouraging, I have found many people lie, thinking they are doing the right thing.
I served as a worship leader before becoming a pastor. A few times a year we would have tryouts for band members and singers to be on the music team. To see how people would respond to being on the stage and in front of people, I would have them audition in front of one another. During one such tryout there was a lady who sang. She was off pitch the entire time and her style did not match the music our church played. While she was sincere in her efforts to worship God with music, it was not the right fit. Yet I was surprised as we closed the session to hear many of the other members telling her how great she did and encouraging her to be on the team. I thought maybe I had the bad hearing and privately asked them about it. They told me they were just being nice and I’d better make sure she didn’t make the team. In an effort to encourage her, they actually lied . . . and then made me the bad guy. When I told her she didn’t make the team, she began quoting all the other folks who tried out and sang her praise. It was an awkward moment that proved the value of being authentic in our encouragement.
Fundamental #3: Express Appreciation
One way to be encouraging is to simply express appreciation. Appreciation is like mixing a vibrant color for a painting. It will add life. Some find it hard to appreciate those who are not just like them. But imagine a painting made of only one color: all reds. While it may be a great exercise for an artist to paint with only one color to develop skills in painting values, (artist check out my post about doing a values study) most of us would not be drawn to such a painting, nor would we want to hang it on the walls of our homes or offices. Discover and appreciate how God has created each of us so uniquely different, and then express that appreciation. God celebrates it and so should we.
As you make genuine encouragement a part of your daily life, you’ll also find incredible benefits added to your Life Palette. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” All of us need encouragers in our lives. The world already beats us down enough without those we have relationships with doing more of the same. We need to be built up . . . and we need to build up