Generosity in giving praise

At work, at school, at church, and sometimes even at home.  Do you ever feel like the only time you hear from people is when you have done something wrong?  Or when others think you should be doing better, more, etc.?

We live in a world where kind words and genuine praise are out of the norm.

I have been on a quest to learn more about generosity this year.  Chris and I have thought a lot about how we can be on the look-out for ways to be generous in our daily lives.  This includes giving money to church and others, but also in how we can generously serve others with our time, talents and other resources.

This morning, it hit me!  We should also be generous with our praise for others.

Last weekend, I went to a Mini-Photography Camp for kids at our church.  It was absolutely wonderful!  The next day (Sunday morning) at church, a man who had attended the event was grabbing people in the church lobby to tell them how awesome the event was!  I immediately texted my friend that led the event to let him know this man was spreading the word at how great it was!  I told Chris about it on the way home, and we both thought it was awesome!  We should be doing more of this!  Recognizing and praising others for good things…and telling other people what we’ve seen our friends do!

Yesterday, someone did something really nice for me.  I sent this person an email saying how much I appreciated what he did and that I thought he was wonderful.  It was a quick, simple, short email.  When I got an email back from him, the first word he wrote was “Wow!”

And this morning, I thought “That’s it!  We should be so generous with our praise for others that they are shocked!  We should make them stop, think and say WOW!”

Hebrews 10:24 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Praising someone for something good or great that they have done is encouraging!  It makes them want to do more of that!

One of my friends posted this article today where a high school boy posted pictures anonymously of kids from his school for a whole year and said nice things about them.  It talked about how blown away the kids were at the nice things said about them.  It’s a good read!

What if we gave praise generously?

What if we were known for our kind words?

What if we went around surprising the people around us by praise and appreciation of them?

What if all Christians did this?

It could change lives.

It could make things better.

It could slowly but surely change the world.

Who’s in?

Book Recommendation

If you know me much at all, you know that I am a voracious reader. I absolutely love books! Any kinds of books! I’ll read anything! Fiction. Non-fiction. Classics. Sci-fi. Religious. Biographies. Anything! I enjoy it all!

Because I read so much, I’m pretty picky about what I read. I want to read good, quality writing and not waste my time on mediocre or poor writing. (Though I will make an exception at times when I’m in the mood for an easy, fun read.)

But most of the time I base my judgement of a book on how I felt about it. Did I enjoy the story? Could I absolutely not put it down? Did it leave me wanting more?

This all being said, I just finished a book that I absolutely loved. It is Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth by Hugh Halter.

I loved this book! While reading it, I kept interrupting Chris while he was watching TV to read him quotes. I recommended it to the preacher at my church. I highlighted about half of the book, and I now feel like I need to re-read it to fully understand what it was saying. So many times in this book, I found myself saying “Yes. Yes. Yes!!!”

So, if you enjoy reading at all, I suggest you read this book! It is powerful and encouraging, and it has made me want to get off my rear and move!


Stop trying to convert people!

I had the realization in Bible class on Sunday that as long as I think that I’m in the converting business, I’m probably not going to do much. I’m going to feel overwhelmed and do nothing.

We have grown up being told that we need to convert people…get them saved! We’ve been trained our whole lives to do this.

But the reality is, the vast majority of us (me included!) are not even attempting it! We’re scared out of our minds about it!

The task seems too great! We are unsure of what to say or do. It seems like such a big deal, a lot of work, and probably a whole of time that we would need to invest in order to see a conversion take place. It’s completely overwhelming.

But if I shift my focus to just having a spiritual conversation, I feel like I can do that. It starts to seem possible. If a spiritual conversation is my ultimate goal…and I give God the job of converting (it’s been his job all along!), that feels like a lot less pressure!

It’s kind of nice to realize that it’s not all up to me. I can be a small step in someone’s journey and not have to feel responsible for the outcome. That’s between them and God. And it’s really kind of selfish of me to think I have a bigger role in this thing than I really do. Yes, God will use us. But ultimately it’s all about God. And we’re here to give him the glory.

Mother Teresa, Billy Graham…and My New Friend, Bob

I had the opportunity to write a post for our church’s blog yesterday.  It’s a fun story, so I wanted to share it here too!

As we began the Becoming a Contagious Christian series, I thought a lot about what a contagious Christian looks like. I wanted to be able to identify people who are contagious Christians.

A few big names stand out.  Mother Teresa, Billy Graham…and then there’s my new friend, Bob.

I met Bob at Starbucks yesterday.  I was out of town, so before I headed home, I wanted to get a coffee and read a little bit.  I got my coffee and then found a really comfortable seat near the front door.  I sat down and was about to get out my book, when the guy sitting next to me asked what day it was.  I told him it was Sunday the 2nd, and he seemed all flustered and said he had somehow lost a day.  He thought it was Saturday.  I thought the guy must have been a little nutty.  (Turns out he had worked all day on Saturday and just got mixed up in his days.)  I can’t remember the next thing he said, but we spent the next hour and a half talking about our lives, God and faith.  Here’s a little bit of Bob’s story:

Bob grew up in Lake Tahoe and did not know about Jesus until he was 22.  He was working for the MGM Grand in Reno and had a friend who had just gone to a Billy Graham crusade who accepted Christ there.  This friend started reading his Bible during his breaks, and was a noticeably changed man.  After watching a movie one night that mentioned God, Bob couldn’t get God off his mind and wanted to learn more.  So he turned to his new Christian friend.  His friend said he didn’t really know all that much since he was a new Christian, but he gave Bob his Bible and a paper explaining how to become a Christian.  Bob went home, read the Bible, wept bitterly for a long time that night, and accepted Christ as his savior.

This started a lifelong love of scripture.  Bob loves the Word of God.  He has gone through countless really hard things in his life (the deaths of 2 children, the loss of a marriage, cancer, etc.), but he clings to the Word of God and his faith.

Bob has friends that he is praying will come to know Christ, and he talks to his friends about God.  He was going to a Super Bowl party last night at the house of one of his friends that he prays for, and he was hoping they would be able to talk more about God.

His non-Christian friends call him “Jesus crazy”.  They know that he loves them unconditionally despite some of the crazy things they do.  And they love him even though he is “Jesus crazy”.

Bob and I were both blown away by the conversation we had just had.  I don’t know Bob’s last name, and I’ll probably never see him again, but he touched my life.  And I had the chance to touch his life and encourage him.  As we stood up to leave, we gave each other a big hug and went our own way.

I am thankful that I got to meet Bob.  I am encouraged by his boldness to show the world his love for God.  I’m glad I decided to sit in that chair at Starbucks.

Who do you know that you would call a Contagious Christian?