Want to change the whole world with small, bite-sized steps? Affirm people. We’re starving for it. We live in a highly critical age when civility has been replaced with sharp-tongued sarcasm. We celebrate witty criticism far more than we celebrate affirmation, but affirming people is a missing ingredient to deeper relationships, mutual emotional healing, and basically, a better world all the way around.
When I was a fairly young believer, my father-in-law (who was also my Pastor) led us in a study of Gary Smalley and John Trent’s The Gift Of The Blessing. We talked then about how frivolously we throw around the words “blessed” and “blessing.” We even follow up a sneeze with “Bless you.”
We live in rather uncivil times. We’re a divided nation in a divided world. In times like these, the world needs a volunteer army of encouragers. It’s one of the best ways to show love. Paul said, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT)
Everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.
When I was serving as a Pastor in Bentonville, Arkansas, I called two friends of mine – fellow Pastors – and we had lunch at Chick-fil-A (of course). It was great. We shared our common struggles, mutual encouragement, and some good laughs. It was so great, we never did it again!… which brings me to my point.
Truth: Your Pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a Deacon’s meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.
There is a universal battle in the lives of believers between the flesh and the Spirit. We waver between doing what our fleshly instincts tell us to do and doing what God is telling us to do. This is a timeless battle.
This past Sunday, I talked about giving. Toward the end of the message, I challenged people to take off their shoes and leave them at church. We give away shoes several times per year and hundreds of people come with a need. As people walked out of church barefoot across the cold, hard concrete, they were to feel just a bit of what it is to be homeless and shoeless. So dozens left their shoes and our lobby is now covered with them!