On Sunday, the lesson in the middle school service was about the power of words to help and encourage other people. It's an important lesson for all of us.
Too often, we're quick to use our words to criticize or complain instead of using them to encourage. We're quick to judge and belittle instead of love and help.
Too often, we wait until a person is dead before we tell them what we really think. Think about it, how many times have you been to a funeral where people stand up and talk about how wonderful a person the deceased was? Do you ever wonder if they told them that to their face?
Not too long ago, I got a card from someone I've never met, telling me how much they enjoyed this blog. Every now and then I get an encouraging email or comment. And it keeps me going. It keeps me blogging. Because I know that what I'm doing matters.
Everyone needs that kind of encouragement. Everyone needs to know that they matter. Everyone needs to know that someone else noticed them.
God knows the power of encouragement. Remember Joshua? He had the task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. He also had some pretty big shoes to fill. Moses wasn't exactly your ordinary guy. So when God told Moses to teach Joshua how to lead the Israelites, He said this: "But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see” (Deuteronomy 3:28).
Everyone we come into contact with needs encouragement, from our kids to our spouses to the clerk at the store who screwed up your grocery bill.
And we need to teach our kids to encourage others. We need to teach them to use their words to help others feel loved. They need to learn to use their words to build others up and not tear them down.
And we all need to learn to do it now. We need to learn to not wait to tell someone what they mean to us. If someone is making an impact in your life or your kids' lives, tell them. Let them know they make a difference. It may just keep them doing what they're doing a little bit longer.
It may seem awkward at first, and your kids will most likely think it's corny to write a note to someone who is a big influence in their lives. But the truth is that God designed words to be used for His glory. He designed words to be used for encouragement. He designed words to be used to change people's lives.
He doesn't want us to wait for someone's funeral to say how important that person was to us. Make it a point to tell someone today that they make a difference. Encourage your kids to do the same.