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. . .
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 2012 by Marty Kaarre)