Building Up and Encouraging One Another

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other….  (1 Thes. 5:11)

One of my most influential mentors was a man named Joel. For the first six months we worked together, I greatly looked forward to our meetings, but then I began to dread them.

The format was always the same. We would meet for lunch, and then he would go through a list of the ways he thought I could’ve done something better than I had. It always seemed like a long list.

During one session, he said, “Jim, it seems like you aren’t listening.”

I said, “I’m not.”

He said, “Why not?”

I said, “We’ve been meeting for almost a year, and not once have you said that I did anything well or right or good. Your constructive criticism has become destructive.”

Joel responded by saying that lunch was over and that he needed to consider what I had said. Even though I wanted our time together to change, I didn’t want our relationship to end.

It didn’t. The next morning, I found a handwritten note in the mail slot. Joel apologized for how he had conducted our meetings and said he would like to continue our relationship in a more balanced way.

Joel was good for his word, and our next session was more fair and constructive.
We all give feedback to each other—our spouses, kids, fellow workers, and friends. Is our feedback more like Joel’s first version or the second?

When Joel switched to a more balanced review, his coaching began to sink in and become tremendously useful. Even though I haven’t met with him for 30 years, his voice and counsel are still speaking to me.

If we want to make that kind of difference for others, I would ask us to lean into and heed today’s scripture: “Encourage one another and build up each other.”

Joel eventually did that for me. We can do the same for others.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Is your feedback more like Joel’s first version or the second? Has your desire to give constructive criticism become destructive?
  1. Is it hard for you to give compliments? Are you afraid that lifting up folks will spoil them or take away their drive? What are the dynamics behind your reluctance to praise?
  1. Some people have a hard time encouraging others because of all the discouraging voices they hear in their own heads. Is that true for you? Do you know who can clear away those destructive voices? Jesus. Are you listening to His constructive voice over all the negative ones?

One thought on “Building Up and Encouraging One Another

  1. Another good one. When I ran the emergency room, finally a resident told me that i was very quick to criticize but rarely gave compliments. I immediately saw that this was so and was able to change. I was expecting excellence as a routine given and hadn’t realized any need to acknowledge someone’s doing what they were supposed to be doing.
    thank you for your uplifting messages and your hospitality. looking forward to seeing you soon

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