Our world needs kind words.
Kind words heal. Kind words encourage. Kind words inspire. Kind words give courage. Kind words sweeten the soul.
Words with edges slice like a knife. Words with edges cut the spirit and wound to the soul. Words with edges cause bitterness, strife, division, discouragement and wars. Words with edges destroy souls.
Study great leaders. You will likely soon find a mother, father, coach, friend, teacher, brother, sister, uncle...someone who came along with words that healed hurts and gave reason for hope.
Just before beginning this letter to you I spoke with a man I greatly admire. He shared that as a boy growing up without a father in his home there were a few men teachers who spoke into his life about manhood. Instead of choosing failure the young boy struggling chose to be a man and enjoy great success.
My first year of teaching public school there was a day that I noticed a senior boy was acting out of character. I gave the class an assignment and retreated to my adjacent office. Then I asked for the boy join me. As we talked he shared that he was planning on committing suicide that evening. He had already written his notes and determined how he would die.
I asked him why he would do such a thing. His answer was that his family was rich. His dad had no time for him. When he would go to his dad for help the question would be how much money did he need.
We talked. He came to understand that his life was too valuable to be forfeited for a moment of frustration.
Money is important. It is necessary. Poverty is not beautiful. Houses too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter are not comfortable. Lack of food and proper diet can cause malnutrition, sickness and prevent proper development of the mind. But money is not everything.
Take the fans out of a football stadium and see how the athletes perform.
Empty the bleachers and see what happens with NBA teams.
Empty high school gyms and ballfields of parents, friends and fans and athletes will lose motivation or quit the team.
Encouragement is fuel. Kind words invigorate and motivate weary spirits. People need a reason to go on when they do not feel like going on.
I knew a man who was a veteran. He shared a story about World War II. American soldiers were surrounded on three sides and pressing toward Berlin. Guns boomed 24 hours day after day. American infantry had been in the field without rest for two weeks. Many soldiers’ feet were frostbitten. The infantry moved over the top of a hill and trudged down in snow almost knee deep.
A solder stopped. Spread his feet and jammed the butt of his rifle into the snow and blurted out: "I am not taking another step. Let the **** Germans come. I don't care!"
At that moment a stray bullet came from over the hill behind them. The bullet passed between the soldier's legs and plowed the snow in front of him.
The soldier seeing the effects of the bullet picked up his rifle and said: "C’mon little feet---one more time!"
Encouragement in a time of challenge can be life-saving. Jesus practiced investing in individuals. He believed in the simple principle of a person using what they had to begin their journey to a new life. To a crippled man Jesus only asked that he stand up. To a leper who had been healed Jesus asked that he go to the Temple and report his healing. To a blind man given sight Jesus asked that he not sin.
My friend, you have been given eternal life. You are a member of the Body of Christ. You are not a stepchild, an orphan or a stranger to God.
What is your commitment to the Body? What is your part in helping the Body to be strong? What can you do that will strengthen you?
After surgery doctors generally advise patients to walk as soon as possible, exercise and get the body in motion. There is healing in forward motion.
My prayer during this season is that we may encourage others to become engaged in sharing Christ with our community and world. Imagine if each of us every day invested encouragement in another person.
Let’s tune our hearts and spirits to be like Barnabas who saw possibilities in John Mark.
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.