A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Building Up

Posted on: May 2, 2013

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29*)

Growing up, I was very blessed to have parents and teachers who told me I could succeed when I put forth my best effort and encouraged me to pursue my love of languages and writing. This encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to express myself creatively.

But I knew people who weren’t so lucky. Like those who were told they didn’t measure up to older siblings or who were cut off from their families because they pursued their own career choice rather than work at the family business.

Sometimes it seems as though people would rather tear others down than build them up.

As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we should “encourage one another and build one another up.” Paul knew the value of encouragement: when he came to join the disciples in Jerusalem, Barnabas told the disciples about Paul’s conversion and his preaching in Jesus’ name (see Acts 9:26-27). Barnabas later journeyed with Paul to bring the good news to the Gentiles.

So how can you encourage others with your words?

  • Businesses: Let others know when you love a product or business. Thank staff when they give you great advice or excellent customer service, and let managers know too. And tell your employees or colleagues when they do a great job.
  • Writers, artists and musicians: Let them know you enjoy their work and look forward to their next book, show or album. Too often people don’t express appreciation for someone’s work until it’s too late.
  • Teachers: Send your child’s teacher a card at the end of the school year to say thanks for the extra help he or she has given. Or express your thanks in person if you volunteer at your child’s school. The same goes for dance teachers, music teachers, or sports coaches—your child’s or your own.
  • Priests and ministry leaders: Let them know you enjoyed the homily, worship music, readings, altar decorations, and so on. Even if people are called to a certain ministry, they’ll enjoy knowing others appreciate their efforts.
  • Family members: Home is where we should be the most encouraging, but it’s too easy to let unfinished chores and hectic schedules get in the way. Thank your husband or wife for helping you fit in that music lesson or fitness class, for listening to you vent about work, or for picking up a special treat at the store. Encourage your spouse in pursuing career or fitness goals or growing in their faith. Catch your children in the act of being helpful or kind and let them know you appreciate it. Point out improvements in their music, athletic or academic skills. And let your spouse or children hear you say positive things about them to others.

If you’d like to read more about using your words to encourage others, I recommend The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman; The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D.; The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd; and The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes, to name just a few.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Proverbs 18:21 reminds us. I pray that we would use our words for building up.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition).

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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