One of my pastors once told the story of three military recruiters who were to address high school seniors. One was from the Army, a second from the Navy, and the third from the Marine Corps. Each was given 15 minutes to speak. The Army and Navy recruiters got carried away, so when it came time for the Marine to speak, he had just two minutes. He walked up and stood utterly silent for a full sixty seconds, half of his time. Then he said, “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who would even stand a chance in the Marine Corps. But I want to see those two or three immediately in the dining hall when we are dismissed.” He turned smartly and sat down. When they all arrived in the dining hall, the Army and Navy recruiters had a few students around them, but the Marine recruiter had a crowd of students wanting to talk.
A Christian leadership magazine retold that story from my pastor a few years later and put it under the category “Appeal to the Heroic.” I remember seeing the category they gave it and thinking how accurately it described my pastor. It is easy for anyone to look for the flaws in others, be negative, be critical under the guise of “just being realistic,” and tear down rather than build up the other person. My pastor appealed to a different way. A better way. It is far better to always seek and call out the best in others.
What if instead of negativity and a critical spirit, you appealed to the greater good with the following people?
Yes, they drive you crazy at times, but what if you looked at them for who they could become, not who they were in that annoying moment. Your child may be the next great scientist, artist, educator or doctor. You are the grown up. You know how life develops people into wonderful surprises. Give your children a better vision of how life could be for them as they develop their very best qualities. They might surprise you with what they do. After all, how many of us know people who are surprised how well we turned out? Give your kids a big vision for their lives.
You married your spouse for better or for worse. In those long seasons of the latter, think how much less stressful life could be if we choose to see and appreciate the best in our spouse. Any spouse can easily create a list of the flaws of the other. Knowing what is on the list, it is easy to slip into a mindset of depreciating your spouse. Look somewhere else instead. Consider how God sees us. God knows the list of our flaws in precise, thorough, and brutal detail. And yet God declares us beloved and worthy of redemption in Christ. See your spouse that same way. If you must look at the flaws and sins, look long enough to see that which is forgiven. Then look at the good and redeeming qualities that make them your beloved. Look at the things you appreciate.
Whether you are a child or an adult, your parents are important people. Maybe you know just how wonderful your parents are or maybe it is the opposite and you see how much pain they have caused. At some point, try to understand them for who they are and what they themselves have been through. Broken parents often were raised in broken homes. More importantly, consider what their life could be like in the future if they could have a different vision for their own life. It is easy to hold their failures ever before them, but so much more fruitful to give them a greater vision for their future. As for the awesome parents, how blessed they will be as you honor them with words of affirmation and see the heroic in them.
Nothing stings like the betrayal of a friend, and nothing is quite as satisfying as the deep bond between good friends. Think about your friends right now. What is it about them you like? What brings you happiness or into solidarity with them? I’ve noticed that people often think things that are positive and affirming, but for whatever reason never say those words to the other person. So tell them! Tell them what you notice that is great. Tell them why you think that quality about them is great. If you think about it, I’ll be you can even name how it makes you feel. Tell them that too. There is nothing like supporting and encouraging words spoken from a true friend.
This may be a stretch for some. The boss is the boss and for some it feels way too personal to say something about the character of the boss. But consider this: the boss is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling person just like you. I promise you that your boss has rough days. Your boss has hopes and dreams too. Why not speak into all of who your boss is. Tell them what you see, what you value in him or her. Don’t do it to kiss up to the boss to get something for yourself; do it because you see him or her as a person who matters. Rather than look for the worst, seek and call out the best in your boss.
All of this is really saying that if we would see others as God sees them, we might have a whole new outlook in them. See the good. Look for it and appeal to it constantly. Appeal to the heroic in others. It might just change everything.
So there it is. Go build up the people in your life with an outpouring of your support, a calling forth of the best part of who they are and who they can be.
Pick someone and do it now.
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