Have you had the pleasure of being around someone who has the gift of encouragement? It is an amazing thing. Whether it comes naturally or is a habit developed through intentional practice, these people make everyone’s life better.
And the Lord tells us in Romans 12 that encouragement is a gift of the Spirit. One who encourages or exhorts can also be seen as giving joy, comforting and urging on.
When we do cooperative learning activities on campus, one of the things we look for in students is sharing positive feedback and exhorting one another to keep going and to do one’s best.
Elsewhere in scripture Jesus says directly that the two great commandments are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. And the above quote from John says in essence that those two are not separate steps but one and the same.
As we started discussing the Fruits of the Spirit this month at SPLS we addressed how the fruit of love is at the foundation of building one another up. And love does not depend on being loved. In fact, the truest test of love is loving someone who does not love us (or doesn’t treat us nicely).
God’s calling to us is to love the unlovable. And if we are making excuses as to why it is OK to reject this person or speak ill of that person we are not loving. And we are confessing that our love for God is pretty weak as well.
Most people probably do not enjoy receiving recognition in a way that is gushing or reeks of flattery. But I think most people do appreciate being appreciated.
And I think the above truths apply to our children, as well.
Right before Christmas, our P.T.O. gave gifts to teachers and staff. Some parents chose to go out of their way to give Christmas cards with kind notes to staff and others gave gifts. Among the generous and thoughtful things that came my way, the most meaningful was from a student who expressed appreciation for my teaching efforts. Being valued made those staff members (and me) feel uplifted.