Becoming a Person Who Brings Out the Best in People

coffee4.jpgYou’ve been there, I suspect.  You were with your friend at lunch or at the coffee place.  Later in the day, long after you left your friend, you realized that you felt more discouraged and more negative about your day after spending time with that friend.

The other day, I was visiting with a guy who was describing one of his friendships.  His friend is a minister and a very unhappy one at that.  My friend said that he needed to spend less time with this friend.  "I feel so down after I have been with him."  Another friend described her time with one of her friends as a real "drain."  "She goes on and on about what she doesn’t like, complaining about this person and that person."

Certainly all of us are going to have bad days.  I certainly have them.  At times, it can be good to be able to talk through some of these tough days with a friend.  I am not suggesting that friends should not do this.  Rather, I am talking about a person who has a regular disposition or attitude of being negative, cynical, and sour.  Too many hours spent with this kind of friend can be draining.  

Let us take this one step farther.  Some of us are a part of groups at work.  Project groups.  Staff meetings.  Task groups.  Do you ever go to some of these meetings and just feel absolutely drained after the meeting is over?  Perhaps the meetings are basically negative.  Perhaps affirmation and encouragement are rare.  Maybe some in these meetings tend to focus on how others could do it better, say it better, plan it better, but say little or nothing that might show appreciation or encouragement toward someone else.  Does this sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Perhaps you and I can’t control the way these groups function.  Perhaps we can’t stop people from being negative and endlessly critiquing one another.  What we can change is the way we handle ourselves with various people.

This morning 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.

So, this is what I would like to be:

  • I would like to be a person who affirms, encourages, and, in general, brings out the best in others (instead of dragging people through the muck and mire of my negative, pessimistic, cynical remarks).
  • I would like to be a person who is a raving fan of anyone who is doing the right thing (instead of forever critiquing others).
  • I would like to be a person who pays attention to people and affirms the good in others (instead of picking apart others when they have worked hard on a project).
  • I would like to be a person who communicates love and appreciation to people who try to make a difference (instead of always communicating where they have fallen short).  

What would you add to this list?   

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “Becoming a Person Who Brings Out the Best in People

  1. I’m with you. 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if this is part of what an analytically-minded person will always struggle with. In other words, some of us just naturally see the problems, want to bring them to light and fix them. Of course, that can be problematic, as you note! It is hard for me to find a balance in this. But I’m with you. I want to be as you say.

  2. Jim, I agree with your sentiments. Who of us could not be more encouraging, more loving, more forgiving, and certainly less judgmental? But I wonder how you square your thoughts with the polemics of the cross? For example, the apostle Paul argued strongly against those who offered a false gospel to the Galatians. Jesus said things that could only be called negative when confronting the Pharisee’s in their self-righteousness and worldliness. And if there were nothing in the gospel that provoked hatred and opposition many statements of Jesus would be incomprehensible. In fact, the cross itself would be nonsensical if Christ Himself did not stand in open, active opposition to evil. There is an aspect of the Christian life that can only be characterized as war. However, I fully agree that the "weapons of our warfare" are of a different nature than the world’s; we must conquer evil with good, with the winsome fruits of the Spirit. In thinking of a current example, where would you stand regarding someone like David F. Wells, who writes against postmodernism’s encroachment into the evangelical church? I suppose the same question could be asked of  apologetics or dogmatics in general. The alternative could be to deny propositional truth, as postmodernism does, as well as the polemical nature of the gospel altogether. That isn’t something I can do, even if it means I will lose someone’s friendship.    

  3. L.L.,I suspect you are right.  Some of us probably struggle with this more than others.  Yet, as you note, there probably is a balance in this, especially when I begin to take on a certain unpleasant attitude about it all.   

  4. Hi Jan,You make good points.  Thanks.  As someone in the thick of pastoral ministry, I find myself dealing with a variety of situations that are anything but positive.  There is misbehavior of all kinds–sexual immorality, materialism, ungodly speech, hateful attitudes, etc.  Then there are times when I address faulty ideas of some sort (similar to your examples in your comment.)   At times people can be irresponsible, unreliable, and fall through on their promises.  Of course, these have to be dealt with in ways that are approriate (as Jesus and the various writers of NT books did).I guess I don’t see that doing this kind of ministry is in conflict with a person having a good, encouraging, disposition.  That is what I was trying to get at in the post.My concern is not with Christians speaking out or speaking against or feeling convicted to confront.  Rather, it is with a disposition and attitude that just repel people instead of attract them.  I believe that a person can navigate some very difficult waters in ministry and still maintain a loving spirit through it all. At times I have felt the need to say some very difficult things to someone I cared about.  I hope that came from one who is generally an encourager.Thanks Jan for your comment and giving me the opportunity to clarify. 

  5. I was just thinking how much better I feel after being encouraging to someone else. It tends to lift my spirits as much or more as theirs.

  6. I would like to be a person who extends mercy to others instead of judgment, and someone who leaves others feeling full of hope rather than despair.  As a Christian, I should be able to do this because even the vilest sinner imaginable is redeemable through Christ. 

  7. Hi Jim,More than the balanced wisdom in your reply, your clearly living by these words as well. I find myself needing that as I struggle with a strong secular spirit here in Europe. Thanks again for sharing. I believe you put things in just the right perspective.

  8. I would like to be a person who sees and encourages  the effort…I see so many people who make an effort, are there when they are needed, pick up the slack and will do anything at all no matter how menial, and because they lack the skills to bring something through to fruition, or because they are not as fast, or as accomplished, they are brushed aside without a thought.  These are the doers when others sit on the sidelines and give advice or ignore a problem altogether.  These are the "cheerful givers" with a childlike belief that God actually intends for us to act on His behalf.  God bless them, and may I always "see" them and let them know it.

  9. Jim, I love this thought. So important, yet I see the same things at times even from people who very much love the Lord, regularly even from such.
    Your point about not being able to control them, but being or becoming different ourselves is very well taken.
    Sometimes we can react in kind, especially over a period of time when this has been grating on us. I think I’ve been there and done that.

  10. Iain,I absolutly love this line!I would like to be a person who sees and encourages  the effort… This is great!  (Me too–by the way)  Thanks.

  11. Connie–I like what you said regarding leaving others with hope instead of despair.  That is very good and such a worthy goal. 

  12. Ted,You say something important that we ought to give some thought to.…yet I see the same things at times even from people who very much love the Lord, regularly even from such.It struck me when I read these words just how blind all of us can be at times.  While I may love the Lord, I really need to look at my relationships with people and the way I handle myself with people everyday.   

  13. I would like to be someone who can see the other persons point of view in difficult situations, not just my point of view.  Maybe then I wouldn’t be as quick to make a harsh judgement and could be more of an encourager to that person.

  14. As we turn our hearts toward family and friends during the Christmas
    holiday, I wanted to let you to know that I am thankful for blessing of many
    new friends I’ve come to “know” here in blogland. The tie that binds us is our
    shared love for and devotion to the Savior whose birth we remember during this
    special time of the year. May your days be full of holiday blessings; and, may
    your heart be filled with the warmth of His presence.



  15. Bill,
       I agree with you…what a wonderful thing when people we’ve never met, and yet are "related" to by the blood of Jesus, can "meet" and share and love one another.  Merry Christmas to all of you, and God bless you in the New Year.