One way to assure you have great people skills is to always encourage and not discourage. Some people act like God has given them the gift of criticism. That gift is not in the Bible. (There is a time to give constructive criticism, check out Wednesday’s blog) Criticism only leads to discouragement, in the Bible 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.
If you’re a self-proclaimed critic, you probably have very few friends because no one likes to be around critical people. “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 trying to encourage. I served as a worship leader before becoming a pastor. A few times each 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 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 was the one who had the bad hearing and privately asked them about it. They told me they were just being nice and that I’d better make sure she didn’t make the team. In an effort to encourage her, they actually lied…and 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 praised her singing ability. It was an awkward moment that proved the value of being authentic in our encouragement.
One way to encourage 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; say, all reds. While it may be a great exercise for an artist to paint with only one color to develop skills in painting values, 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 appreciation for that. God celebrates it and so should we.
Build Up And You Will Be Built Up
As you make genuine encouragement a part of your daily life, incredible benefits will also be added to your Life Palette. In the Bible, 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 encouraging people in our lives. The world beats us down enough to have those people in our primary, secondary, and intermediate relationships do the same. We need to be built up…and we need to build up others.
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