Accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
And don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween.
I loved this little song when I was a child, and I still sing it to myself at times today. I like to be positive and encouraging whenever I can, and I like to be around positive and encouraging people.
Here is a little story to consider:
Once upon a time there was a young, 2o-something mother, Susie Jo Sunshine, who was new to town and decided to join the other young mothers at church in a play group for their children. The playgroup met once a month and the other mothers said they needed someone who would organize the activities and dates.
Susie Jo volunteered. You see, she was a very organized person. Making lists and charts and detailed schedules were her favorite things to do. So, she was very excited about this opportunity to fit in, make some new friends, and share her gift of organization. She immediately set to work on the Play Group Activity Schedule.
At the next meeting of play group moms, Susie Jo came prepared with colorful copies of the schedule to hand out to everyone. She stood in front of the group, beaming smile on her face, clutching her copies, and began to go over the schedule she had worked out. “For the first play date on our new schedule, we will be meeting at 9:30,” she said cheerfully.
“9:30!?” Negative Nelly called out. “That’s a little early for some of us who get up during the night with little ones.”
“Oh…..” said Susie Jo. “I guess I didn’t think of that. Let’s come back to that later. We will begin our activities at North Side Park and Playgrou…”
“Most of us live on the south side of town.” Constantly Correcting Cathy interrupted. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to meet at South Side Park?” Others nodded in agreement. “North Side Park doesn’t have a merry go round. My kids won’t play at a park with no merry go round.” Negative Nelly added.
Susie Jo’s smile dimmed and she could see that this was going to be more difficult than she had thought, but she plowed ahead. “OK, I’ll change that to South Side Park. Moving on. I thought it would be super fun if everyone brought a sack lunch and we could have a sack lunch swap,” she chirped, just a tad less enthusiastically than she had before.
There was a commotion in the back of the room, and Susie Jo thought she heard something about peanut allergies. “Does that mean we’re going to be there for 3 HOURS! That’s much longer than any of the play dates we have had in the past,” Critical Carol complained.
The mothers began discussing amongst themselves and Susie Jo heard one say, “Why do we need to swap lunches? I’ve never even heard of a sack lunch swap.” Another replied, “What’s so fun about that?”
“Well, I guess we don’t have to swap lunches,” Susie Jo said, breathing deeply. “Let’s just make that part optional.”
“Then how will we know whether to bring one or not?” a voice piped up. “Don’t we need a sign up sheet?”
Susie Jo felt like throwing the copies of the schedule she had worked so hard on up into the air. Her smile was mostly gone now except for a weak attempt to disguise the fact that she was clenching her teeth. She silently vowed that she would never agree to organize anything for this group again. Susie Jo Sunshine now felt more like Susie Jo Stormcloud.
Have you ever encountered something like I just described above? It would be very unpleasant wouldn’t it? I wonder how Susie Jo would have felt if the mothers would have thanked her for her efforts and at least tried the schedule she presented.
A little bit of encouragement can go such a long way. In fact, Christians are told to “encourage one another and build up one another,” “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” and “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
We are told to do these things whether or not we think it is our gift to be an encourager. We should be encouraging one another and building each other up even if it is our nature to correct others. Even if we don’t feel like it. Let us, who claim the name of Christian, be diligent in our efforts to follow God’s word.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10