Far too many people squander the opportunity they have to make a powerful difference in the life of another.
It doesn’t have to be this way
Yet, I suspect you’ve been there. You have lunch or coffee with a friend. Later in the day, long after you’ve left your friend, you realize that when you are with this friend you usually leave her/him feeling more discouraged and more negative about life than you did before.
A friend of mine tells of his friendship with a particular minister. This minister was a very unhappy man. My friend once said that he needs to spend less time with this friend. “I feel so down after I have been with him.” Another friend described her time with a certain friend as a real “drain.” “She goes on and on about what she doesn’t like, complaining about this person and that person.”
It doesn’t have to be this way.
All of us are going to experience tough seasons of life. At times, it can be helpful to talk with a friend. I am not suggesting that friends should not talk about what is difficult in their lives. Rather, I am focusing these remarks on a particular attitude. One can have a regular disposition or attitude that is negative, cynical, and sour.
I believe that God works through us, enabling us to have an attitude and disposition that blesses. God enables us to encourage another.
I was sitting in a Panera Bread working. I overheard a conversation between three women (I gathered they were friends) at the table next to mine. These were three young mothers. One of them was also a school teacher. At one point in their conversation, she talked with them about relating to their children’s school teachers. She said, “After the first day, approach the teacher sincerely and say something like this, ‘Yes! Yes! I am right with you. Tell me how to help you this year! I can be here tomorrow and talk with you about supporting some of these projects you have in mind.’” Wow!
The following are four ways to build up others around you. Let me encourage you to connect these suggestions to people you will be with today:
1. Choose to affirm, encourage and bring out the best in others (instead of dragging people through the muck and mire of constant negative, pessimistic, cynical remarks). These people will look forward to being with you.
2. Choose to be a raving fan of anyone doing the right thing (instead of critiquing and sizing up others). Affirm what is good, right, and positive.
3. Pay attention to people and the details of their lives. Affirm the good in them (instead of focusing on the shortcomings of others). Unlike those who regularly demand attention, some people often slip under the radar. Be intentional about paying attention to these people.
4. Communicate appreciation to people who desire to make a positive difference with their lives (instead of taking these people for granted). You will never know how important a word of appreciation might be today.
Which one of these four suggestions do you especially need to pay attention to?