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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Art of Encouragement

I learned the fine art of a cut down early in life. I learned it from some of the best. Like many of you, I cut my teeth on sarcasm in elementary school--an occasional jab here, a nice slam there. All of us would play to the crowd. The more "oohs" we got, the more important it was that we come back with another good one.

Then there were the TV shows. One of my favorite was "Welcome Back, Kotter." It was a story of a young man who returns to his old neighborhood to become a teacher. The class room became a testing ground for some of the best "slams" ever heard to mankind at that point. "You're so ugly..." or "You're so short..." became standard fair in our playground chatter or our lunchroom battles.

The sad thing is, many of us never grew out of that mentality--cutting others down so we could feel better about ourselves. Sure, we've grown up to more "adult" phrases. Our "You're so short..." has progressed to "You'll never guess what they did." But it's a put down nonetheless and it's sole purpose is elevating ourselves at the expense of others. It's good for a few laughs and many people can take it without letting it get personal. But as I watch another generation of kids grow up with "Yo mama" jokes and similar slams, I wonder how far removed we can become from what God intended us to treat each other like.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up... 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

I love a good laugh just like anyone else. But I also remember the times I've been on the receiving end of hurtful jabs. Like most of you, I laugh it off and pretend to move on. But words can sting and wound the soul. How much better would our lives be if we could find the lost of art encouragement again--if we could rediscover that ability to lift others with our words and encourage them to face another day? There is enough in this life to put us down and keep us there. There is no challenge in joining the crowd when it comes to belittling others. Learning to use our words as gifts that bring healing is an art worth rediscovering and one that should be applauded in others when we see it taking place. I hope you hear the words of encouragement you need today.

1 comment:

Keena said...

AMEN! What a great post.