Encouraging Each Other

Story of the Day for Monday August 6, 2012 

Encouraging Each Other

 

                 Let us consider how we can spur each other on in love and good works – not neglecting to meet together, as some are in the habit, but encouraging each other. . .  

                                                                                       Hebrews 10:24-25

 

 One of the greatest moments in a grade school teacher’s career happened by mistake.

In his first year of teaching, Jaime Escalante had two students who shared the same first name, Johnny.  But they were so different.   One was an excellent student – happy and well-behaved.  The other was a goof-off and did not take his studies seriously.

At the first PTA meeting of the year, a parent asked how her son was doing. The teacher raved about her son Johnny and what a delight he was to have in the classroom.   But he was mistaken.  He was actually talking to “bad” Johnny’s mom.

The next day, the problem child approached the teacher.  “My mom told me what you said about me last night.  I haven’t ever had a teacher who wanted me in his class.”

From that day on “Problem Johnny” completed his assignments and became a model student.

 

Even though the teacher’s praise was unintentional, it demonstrates how powerful our encouragement of others can be.   People are capable of doing so much if we can make them believe they can.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, in their best-selling book, In Search of Excellence, describe a psychological experiment where every adult is given the same ten puzzles to solve.   Half of the exam takers were told they did well, getting seven out of ten correct.   The other half was informed they did poorly, getting seven out of ten problems wrong.

But, in fact, the psychologists made the test scores up.   And when they gave each group another round of puzzles, they discovered that those who were told they did well the first round did better on the second, while those who were told they did poorly did worse on the second test.

Encouragement is urging others to believe – to believe

in what the Lord has done for them, to believe in what God has made them capable of, to believe they are loved.

But here is the important point: encouragement is what we do for another person.  We need each other.   That is why the Bible urges us to get together – not only for the purpose of corporate worship – but to encourage each other in love and good deeds.

 

Encouraging others is not always our first impulse.   We are avid fans of employing criticism to improve behavior.  And don’t get me wrong – criticism has its place.   There are times when we must point out someone else’s faults.   Yet, if we are not sensitive in our criticism, we can decrease rather than improve another person’s behavior.   The test takers who were told they did poorly are proof of that.

There is more power in encouragement than we often imagine. Every since Cheryl Pruitt was four or five she would hang around her dad’s country stores.  Every day the milkman would arrive to stock the store.  And every day he would greet little Cheryl and say, “So, how’s my little Miss America?”

In 1980, guess who became the new Miss America?

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Why Some Good Manners Are Bad

Story of the Day for Thursday August 2, 2012 

Why Some Good Manners Are Bad

 

                    But God has composed the Body as to give greater honor to those lacking it.  

                                                                              1 Corinthians 12:24     

 

Finns are considered one of the most informal cultures in the world. Some have said their national costume is the tracksuit. They seldom wear suits and ties and normally call teachers by their first names.

The Finns don’t make a big fuss about a person’s status in society.  But they are kind, and understand their informality could easily offend those from other cultures. Thus, guidebooks on social etiquette have been frequent best-sellers in Finland.

 

Manners should be motivated by respect for other people. But, sometimes, manners originate to show our dis-respect for them.

 

In medieval times, feudal societies marked their social status by their “manners.” Our English word, “courtesy,” originally referred to the behavior of those in royal “courts” – as opposed to the feudal peasants. Those who received a formal education adopted distinct manners to indicate their superiority to the uneducated masses. Before 1611, dining forks were unknown in England. After Thomas Coryate introduced them from Italy, they soon became markers of social status and sophistication.

Don’t get me wrong: I highly encourage showing respect to those in offices of authority. While performing their duties, we’re doing a good thing when we call a judge “Your Honor,” or a policeman, “Officer.” But we must remember that drinking tea with our pinkie in the air can become a thinly disguised means of displaying our snobbishness.

 

The Bible says we should show respect for those in authority. But God destroys snobbishness by flip-flopping the rules. He has composed the body of Christ so that those who lack status are to be shown special honor.

 

A century ago, Cecil Rhodes was, to put it mildly, an influential man. He founded the Rhodes Scholarship, the largest diamond company in the world (DeBeers), and even founded a country (Rhodesia).

As a British statesman, Rhodes was a stickler for proper dress. Once, Rhodes invited a young man to dinner. The man arrived by train and was directly escorted to Rhode’s mansion in his travel-stained clothes. The young man was aghast to see that all the other guests wearing full evening dress.

When Rhodes spotted his young guest, he immediately disappeared. When he returned to his guests, he was no longer wearing evening dress, but instead, an old suit similar to that of the young man who just arrived off the train.

 

Manners can be used to flaunt social status. But manners can also be used to show that, in God’s eyes, we’re all loved equally. And to remind each other of that fact.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 

 

“How to Fall Off a Cliff”

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 31, 2012 

“How to Fall Off a Cliff”

                    Throw all your worries on God, because he cares about you. 

                                                                            1 Peter 5:7

It was a dark and stormy night.  The man’s candle lantern blew out, and now he made his way in the inky blackness along the dirt road to the nearest farmhouse.

In the darkness he wandered off the road and stumbled over a cliff.  As he fell he grabbed hold of a branch jutting out from the side of the cliff. He shouted for help, but his cries were not answered.  Steadily, his arms began to weaken. When he could no longer hold on, he let out a groan, and fell . . . six inches to the bottom of the ditch.

That man was terrified as he hung from the branch. But his fear was due to lack of knowledge. Had he had known he was only six inches from the ditch he would have no trouble letting go.

That raises an intriguing question: how much of our anxiety is based on a lack of knowledge? If you think about it, just about all our anxiety is based on our lack of knowledge.

“That’s great, Uncle Marty. Unfortunately, I already know my anxiety is based on my lack of knowledge, but I can’t do anything to change it!  I don’t know how the stock market is going to do next week, or how effective the chemo treatments are going to work, or whether Thelma will still like me after I accidentally ran over her cat.”

Maybe this will help. Steve Brown, in a teaching called, Walking Free, talked about those dreaded threats we all remember. His grade school teacher warned the class that, if they didn’t behave, they would be sent to the principal’s office.

The dreaded day arrived when Steve Brown could no longer be good. As he made his way to the principal’s office, he reflected on his life’s end.

When he sat before the principal, he said, “You’re having trouble, aren’t you Stephen?”

“Yeah.”

“You don’t like that teacher very much, do you?”

“Uh . . . no sir, not much.”

And then the principal said, “I don’t either.” They laughed together. And then Stephen realized that all the rumors about the principal were untrue. He wasn’t the stern authority figure that other people said he was.

The principal told Steve, “I want you to come down and meet me in my office, and I’ll get you out before the bus leaves so you can get home on time.”  They became friends.

You don’t have to know God’s plan for your future in order to get rid of anxiety.  All you really need to know is that your Father cares about you.  And that he’s your friend.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)