Verse to Remember: “Encourage one another and build each other up.” — I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Question to Consider: How can you become a more consistent source of encouragement to those around you?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 23 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.
The most challenging world in today’s question is “consistent.” Encouragement is one of those things that is easy to pay lip service to, and practice when we’re feeling happy. Maintaining a positive, supportive attitude is much harder when things are going badly — especially towards those whom I feel may be responsible!
Perhaps the hardest lesson to learn (or remember) is one of the simplest: people are valuable. A lot of my academic life — even part of my religious life — was built on the premise that ideas are valuable. The rest, as well as my business life, mostly emphasized that work is valuable. But, to the extent that those things are true, they are only valuable in service to people.
I’ve occasionally wished I could teach (or perhaps take 🙂 a course entitled “Humanity 101”, that would focus on what it means to be a whole, complete human being. That is, a discipline which emphasized that the second most important field of study (after God) was people; rather than, say, matter, money, or me. We tend to focus on the things we love — and love the things we focus on. All too often I focus either on myself or those things under my control (which, sadly, I sometimes try to include people under) — and get annoyed when people disrupt that. Instead, we need to “look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.” (I Thessalonians 5:15b, Msg.)
Prayer: God, teach me to value people always, even — or perhaps especially — when they disrupt my vision of how the world should be. Grant me your eyes, to see their hurt and need. Grant me your heart, to respond with love and compassion. Grant me your mouth, to speak words of life and health and healing. Grant me your pierced feet, that I may walk with them in fellowship. Grant me your nail-scarred hands, that I may serve them in my brokenness, even as you served me — and still serve me — in yours. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.