It was one of Daddy's great vacation adventures! I announced to the family that we were going to climb Panther Mountain that day. The idea was greeted with underwhelming enthusiasm, but off we went, hiking up the gentle uphill trail that would get us to our goal: the rock fortress I had been told was at the top. As we trudged up the trail, my wife kept pointing out nice things along the way, "Oh, look at the chipmunk! Look at that tree growing out of the rock! Oh, don't you love the sound of the wind blowing through the pines?" I would smile and politely acknowledge her little observations, all the while keeping my mind firmly focused on the real reason for this activity - getting to the top of the mountain. You can imagine how unthrilled I was when my wife suddenly said, "Well, the kids are getting tired, and this has been a really neat hike. Let's head back." Head back? We were only half way to our goal? If we went back now, this would all have been a waste of time!
I don't have much time for TV. But when I do, I don't usually watch gymnastics. But some time ago they showed a sports feature about gymnastics on my plane flight. As usual, I had too much to do to get the headset that carries the audio, but I did occasionally glance up at the video part. It was a gymnastics meet between the U.S. and Russia. You can probably guess who I was rooting for. Now, I couldn't hear any commentary, but I saw some impressive performances by these young athletes. I also saw an occasional replay. But every time they did a replay, all they showed was the gymnast's mistakes, anything that she was marked down for, and they kept replaying it. They had executed some great moves, but no, we don't go over those - only their mistakes.
It's not only athletes who have their shortcomings replayed. A lot of us are experts on going over and over the mistakes people make; the weaknesses they have. Which is definitely not what God had in mind for how we would use these mouths of ours in the lives of those around us.
In fact, he describes that in our word for today from the Word of God, Ephesians 4:29. "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." In other words, talk about the things that will build that person up; stow the things that will tear them down.
Now think about how you talk to the people that you're around a lot - your coworkers, your friends, your parents, maybe your husband or wife, your children, or the people at church. Could it be that you have a tendency to train your camera on what they do wrong, or their weaknesses, their shortcomings, the problem areas? And do you keep bringing up where they missed it - like those sportscasters replaying the gymnasts' mistakes?
This is a classic problem between parents and children, for example. Let's say your son or daughter brings home four Bs and one D. What do we spend most of our time on? The four Bs? Oh, no, we do most of our talking about the one D. Too often, we do that with every area of their life. Minimizing - overlooking what they're doing right - and focusing on what needs improvement. And we're trying to build them up by showing them their failings and what they need to work on, right? But I wonder if we keep doing that, aren't we actually tearing them down?
People can slowly but surely be destroyed by someone's critical spirit. Could that be happening to someone in your world? Remember that the people around you are starved for praise. Yes, part of loving someone is to gently help them see their blind spots and to help them get stronger where they're weak; to help them improve. There is a place for constructive criticism, but you win the right to do that when you spend more time talking about their strengths and what they do right.
Replay capability is a powerful thing. If you keep replaying their mistakes where they haven't measured up, well, you'll diminish those around you. If you replay their good points, you're going to build up those around you, which is what God says we're supposed to do. Help the people who you are around a lot see the worth and the value that God sees in them by the way you keep pointing it out to them.
Maybe you've focused on their falls too much. It's time to start replaying the good moves made by the people you care about!
"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air "A Word With You," please let them know how much you value this program. Over six years of transcripts are available online, at Click Here
Two boys in Boston were playing basketball when one of them was attacked by a rabid Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the other boy ripped a board off a nearby fence, wedged it into the dog's collar and twisted it, breaking the dog's neck.
A newspaper reporter from the Boston Herald witnessed the incident and rushed over to interview the boy.. The reporter began entering data into his laptop, beginning with the headline:
"Brave Young Celtics Fan Saves Friend From Jaws Of Vicious Animal."
"But I'm not a Celtics fan, "the little hero interjected. "Sorry, replied the reporter. "But since we're in Boston, Mass, I just assumed you were."
Hitting the delete key, the reporter began his story again: "John Kerry Fan rescues Friend From Horrific Dog Attack."
"But I'm not a Kerry fan either," the boy responds. The reporter says, "I assumed everybody in this state was either for the Celtics or Kerry or Kennedy. "What team or person do you like? "
"I'm a Houston Rockets fan and I really like George W. Bush" the boy says. Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again, "Arrogant Little Conservative _____ Kills Beloved Family Pet.."
You might want to clean up the language a bit, but I think it's funny. And, sadly, true.