This is my article as published in the November 7, 2013 issue of The Mena Star
As we go through life, one of the constants seems to be criticism. I'm sure that everyone has been the recipient of criticism and has more than likely been critical of others. Criticism is not an effective way of solving problems. What methods should we use in place of criticism? How about trying affirmation. During the Wednesday night prayer meeting at my church, we have been studying 1 Thessalonians. We have seen that even when Paul was addressing problems he included plenty of affirmation. It's been shown that, in order to neutralize the emotional impact of criticism, one must affirm five times.
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "so encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now". Are you encouraging those around you or are you criticizing? Elizabeth Harrison, a pioneer in early childhood education in America stated, "Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize".
When I was in grade school I often heard the retort, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". That statement is not true. In fact, words may not break our bones, but they certainly can damage our spirits. In Proverbs 12:18 the Bible tells us, "sharp words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal".
When we speak words of criticism we are not following God's plan. Ephesians 4:29 says, "do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you". If we want to help someone we need to encourage them, not criticize them.
I need to ask myself, "Am I encouraging others"? God's Word certainly tells us to do so.
When we encourage and help others, we are showing God’s love. I encourage you to try it. Show someone how much you value them for who they are. Encouragement can drastically change a person’s life!
I recently ran across a story written by Kathy Schultz. She said that, "pink is my granddaughter's favorite color. She had been telling me this since she first discovered colors. The other night as she chatted away, she added that yellow was another one of her favorite colors."
Kathy went on to explain why her granddaughter had added yellow as a favorite color. She said that when she asked about the new favorite color, her granddaughter began by telling her that when she went to music class, Mrs. Cooke, the music teacher told her she was a bright yellow crayon, bright as the sun.
Kathy wrote, "this is a wonderful description of my grandchild! The teacher was right. She is a bubbly, cheerful, child. Truly, she is a bright ray of sunshine." She concluded by saying, "words have such power. A small statement made by her teacher had truly inspired my granddaughter. It made her even list yellow as her favorite color. I doubt she will ever forget the teacher's kind remarks. This made me think of the words I say. Do I say kind, encouraging, inspiring words to others?"
The word ‘encouragement’ means to support. When we encourage we speak words that uphold someone to bring change for the better. By our words we need to let them know that we support their dreams, pursuits, and goals. We all tend to get discouraged from time to time and need encouragement.
Colossians 3:12 tells us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” If we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience we will be perfectly equipped to be an encouragement to others. We will not have a critical spirit.
To criticize or encourage, the choice is yours. I hope that your choice will be to encourage others. If you do, God will encourage you!
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.