Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Remember that old expression, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” How many of us instinctively shot back those words on the playground when we were children? Perhaps children still do today. We may have tried to appear strong and courageous in response to the hurtful, thoughtless, or careless name calling of our peers, but on the inside, we felt like a deflated balloon. No matter how old we are, words have the power to tear us down or build us up.
On one of my recent walks with our Corgi puppy, three separate passersby called out to me, “Who’s training whom?” That same morning a bicyclist said laughingly to his companion, “that’s how my mom would walk the dog.” At the time he rode by, I was giving Winston (and myself) a moment to regroup. Didn’t we both deserve to watch and listen to the big wide world go by with awe and wonder?
These comments were not helpful to me. In fact, later that afternoon, I handed the leash to my husband in defeat. I walked back home by myself and dissolved into tears. Since then I’ve been tempted to hide from the outside world to do my training in secret just to avoid the judgement.
In these divided and challenging times, it is tempting to make careless remarks or to respond to others out of anger, frustration, and our own discontent. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that children are always watching, listening, and taking in a lot of what’s going on around them. As Christian adults, we have a responsibility to model what we say to and about others. So, regardless of what or how we feel, we should always T.H.I.N.K before we speak. T – is it True? H – is it Helpful? I – is it Inspiring? N – is it Necessary? K – is it Kind?
When I wiped my tears from that discouraging day, I remembered what one seasoned dog owner had said to me, “We’ve all been there. Keep at it. It will all be worth it.” That gentleman built me up. His encouraging words gave me renewed confidence and hope for training my puppy.
As God encourages us through scripture and the love of others, so we too, can look for opportunities to encourage and build others up. Perhaps our morning prayers can begin with the scripture, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Prayer Focus: For children who are being bullied, and for the children acting out their own hurt by bullying others
Prayer: Lord God, reading through the Bible is a great reminder of your love and encouragement for us. May we truly think about the words we speak today so that they do not bring people down but rather build them up. Amen
Morning Prayer Coloring Page. Click here to download Psalm 19:14. Color it and keep it next to your bed to read in the morning. Download and color a few extras for others you feel may need some encouragement and building up.
Work on a puzzle together. As you take turns discovering where the pieces go, offer help and encouragement to each other. As you work, say, “Just like our pieces are different and special, God made each of us special.” What’s something special you notice about someone in your family? God gives us friends to help us when we don’t know what to do next. Who helps you when you don’t know what to do?
Play the Encouragement Game. Sit in a circle and give everyone a piece of paper and pen. Each person should write their name at the top of the piece of paper, then pass it to the person on their left. Each person then writes one or two (or more) positive characteristics about the person whose name is at the top of the paper such as kind, thoughtful, always thinking of others, a good cook, has a funny (good) sense of humor. Enjoy reading the messages of encouragement you receive from your family and friends.
Make an Encouragement Box. Fill it with things to encourage either yourself or someone else when they are feeling down. Click here for some ideas of what to fill the box with.