Encouragement As a Tipping Point

How many times have you heard the sentence “it was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”  We use these words when someone has reached an emotional breaking point.  Usually some relatively little thing pushes a person under duress to the brink.  They snap, blow up, break down.  It’s left to others to pick up the wreckage.

Such a moment may be called a tipping point.  Someone holds up against relentless pressure and circumstances until some minor thing causes them to collapse.  A straw.

A tipping point is an event in a defining moment that changes things in a big way.  In a life.  Sometimes in an entire culture.  The end of the Roman gladiatorial games in the Colosseum as a result of Telemachus’s protest comes to mind.   Or the  public 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in which her neighborhood witnesses did nothing to intervene and protect her.  This tragedy highlighted a culture of indifference and non-involvement.

I’d like to suggest that there are also such tipping points that result from continual encouragement.

There is always room in our world for another voice saying things like “you’re the man”; “you are beautiful”; “you have what it takes”; “you can do this.”  It often takes repeated positive affirmations to reach a tipping point in a life.   The point at which the recipient of the encouragement begins to believe it and act.

There are many broken homes in our land.  Families fractured and alienated.  Usually, the most potent fallout from a disintegrated family lands on the children.  This is not to say that fathers and mothers who’ve divorced one another do not encourage their kids.  Far from it.  But the absence of one of the parents and an intact family certainly has a devastating effect.

Young men need to be told they have what it takes to compete and win in the marketplace and in life.  Young women need to know they are protected, valuable and beautiful.

Continually encouraging human beings, especially the young, will no doubt cause such marvelous tipping points.  The point at which a person begins to see within themselves what God and others have known all along.  But it takes positive affirmation, repeated over time, to crest that watershed.

I challenge you to make it your goal to bring as many people, through your words, to a making point (as opposed to a breaking point).  Use your tongue as the creative instrument God intended it to be.  And watch as the light dawns in someone’s eyes as they realize that they are valuable, loved and eternally matter.

Suggested Resources:

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Malcolm Gladwell)

The Unlimited Self: Destroy Limiting Beliefs, Uncover Inner Greatness, and Live the Good Life (Jonathan Heston)

 

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True Friends…Rarer Than You Think

True FriendsThere is a proverb in the Bible that goes like this: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

We all survive and thrive on the comfort of those who know us best, who get us back on our feet and help us to carry on when the going gets tough.

I am continually challenged to take my ability to be a friend to another level.  My wife and I have made some strategic decisions for the next year and are laying out goals for our personal and professional development.  Often, in my desire to offer comfort I sabotage her by offering a way out of difficulty rather than challenge in the pursuit of her goals and dreams.  She’s told me, “I really need you to be a friend to me and not let me out of these goals when things are not easy.”

I have to admit, it’s far easier for me to soothe when I should be urging her on to hit the marks she has set, with affection and encouragement.

How about you?

As a friend, you are able to speak in love to those closest to you and help them become the best they can be.  In fact, it’s your love and commitment that makes such direct challenges palatable.

Here’s some starters to help be a better friend:

  • “You’re overextending yourself.  Why don’t you get to bed a little earlier? You need sleep—not more movies.”
  • “Come on.  You’re better than that!”
  • “Do you really need that second bowl of ice cream or can of beer?”
  • “There’s a trend I’m seeing in your attitudes.  Let’s talk about it.  I’ll walk with you through this and stick with you.”
  • “You need to take better care of yourself.  Why don’t you make an appointment to see a doctor?”
  • “Be a class act.  Don’t descend to the level of petty gossip and malice over what [insert name] has disappointed you with.”

Being a friend surely means offering solace and empathy.  But it also has the character of a good coach—you help those you love to win.  Be that friend.

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Careful–Your Tongue Is Loaded!

Tongue A WeaponIf we had any conception of the power of the spoken word, I’m convinced we’d be different people.  We would handle words—whether spoken or written—like a bomb squad handles a bomb that needs defusing.

As a Christian, I believe the universe was spoken into existence.  Obviously, I was not there to witness it.  But I believe the biblical record when it talks about how the universe was framed:  From the mouth of God.  I’ve no intent to go into the various scientific cosmologies.  But I do believe the record that says “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3)

If words create worlds, what do they produce when uttered or penned by creatures made in the image of God?  Maybe, as Peter Kreeft says, we should all be wearing crash helmets, considering that words are so powerful.

I’ve served in three different churches as an associate pastor since 1993.  I learned very quickly that words have the power to destroy people and cripple them for years, sometimes for life.  And I learned that people can shoot for the stars with a little encouragement.  That words are creative.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Treat your mouth and your pen as either loaded instruments or creative vehicles.  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” simply does not square with reality.  Try these on your family, friends and associates:

“You’re gonna make it.”

“The best is yet to come.”

“I love you.”

“I forgive you.”

“You can do this.  You have what it takes.”

Watch what happens.  And when tempted to let someone feel the brunt of your anger by your tongue, stop for a bit, think carefully and remember that you are in the possession of a loaded weapon.

Handle with care.

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A Winsome Tipping Point

Figher_Fighter_Tipping_PointHow many times have you heard the sentence “it was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”  We use these words when someone has reached an emotional breaking point.  Usually some relatively little thing pushes a person under duress to the brink.  They snap, blow up, break down.  It’s left to others to pick up the wreckage.

Such a moment may be called a tipping point.  Someone holds up against relentless pressure and circumstances until some minor thing causes them to collapse.  A straw.

A tipping point is an event in a defining moment that changes things in a big way.  In a life.  Sometimes in an entire culture.  The end of the Roman gladiatorial games in the Colosseum as a result of Telemachus’s protest comes to mind.   Or the  public 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in which her neighborhood witnesses did nothing to intervene and protect her.  This tragedy highlighted a culture of indifference and non-involvement.

I’d like to suggest that there are also such tipping points that result from continual encouragement.

There is always room in our world for another voice saying things like “you’re the man”; “you are beautiful”; “you have what it takes”; “you can do this.”  It often takes repeated positive affirmations to reach a tipping point in a life.   The point at which the recipient of the encouragement begins to believe it and act.

There are many broken homes in our land.  Families fractured and alienated.  Usually, the most potent fallout from a disintegrated nuclear family lands on the children.  This is not to say that fathers and mothers who’ve divorced one another do not encourage their kids.  Far from it.  But the absence of one of the parents and an intact family certainly has a devastating effect.

Young men need to be told they have what it takes to compete and win in the marketplace and in life.  Young women need to know they are protected, valuable, and beautiful.

Continually encouraging human beings, especially the young, will no doubt cause such marvelous tipping points.  Those points at which a person begins to see within themselves what God and others have known all along.  But it takes positive affirmation, repeated over time, to crest that watershed.

I challenge you to make it your goal to bring as many people, through your words, to a making point (as opposed to a breaking point).  Use your tongue as the creative instrument it was intended it to be.  And watch as the light dawns in someone’s eyes as they realize that they are valuable, loved and eternally matter.

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“You Can Do This!”

Chemistry Teacher with Students in ClassOne of the most inspiring examples of leadership I ever witnessed took place in a classroom of mine.  A dozen years ago, I took a substitute math and science teaching position in a small private school. I started four months into the year and filled the position until the school year ended.

I’d been having a tough time teaching a certain class effectively.  One of my colleagues named Kyle happened to be the math chair of the school.  He volunteered to come in and teach a lesson.  I would watch him teach and increase my own confidence.  I accepted his offer.

He came in and taught a rudimentary algebra lesson, easy stuff for him.  He wrote a problem on the chalkboard, illustrating a certain algebraic function.  Then he looked out at the class comprised of kids from grades 7-9 and said, “I bet you guys can do this.”

Often people use sarcasm and trash-talk to try to get people to perform.  You see this often in sports contests.  Others try to guilt people into better performance in this or that arena of life.  But this teacher, an ace, used an opposite tack.  He set the bar high and confidently told the students they had what it took.

The result? You guessed it.  The students rose to the challenge, solved the problem on the board and learned.

I can’t tell you what concept we learned that day.  But I will never forget his leadership in the classroom.  It’s why he was a great teacher.

You can take away a number of helpful things from this example:

  • If you set the bar high for those you’re responsible for, you will be pleasantly surprised to watch them meet and exceed the goal.  Often we set it too low and then are baffled and frustrated by mediocre performance.  The same is true for the goals we set for ourselves.
  • Positive expressions of affirmation and encouragement will always be better than sarcasm and talking people down.  I’ve never yet met a great leader who is fundamentally sarcastic and pessimistic.

Challenge: Set some high goals for yourself for the slower Summer months as well as the time after Labor Day when the pace accelerates.  If you’re a leader, issue inspiring and tough challenges for those under you.  Then watch as you meet the objectives you’ve set.  It’s really not that hard.  It’s the pessimism, the internal and external trash-talk, that make the meeting of lofty goals difficult.  But you’re better than that!

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“I Bet You Can Do This!”

One of the most inspiring examples of leadership I ever witnessed took place in a classroom of mine.  A dozen years ago, I took a substitute math and science teaching position in a small private school. I started four months into the year and filled the position until the school year ended.

I’d been having a tough time teaching a certain class effectively.  One of my colleagues named Kyle happened to be the math chair of the school.  He volunteered to come in and teach a lesson.  I would watch him teach and increase my own confidence.  I accepted his offer.

He came in and taught a rudimentary algebra lesson, easy stuff for him.  He wrote a problem on the chalkboard, illustrating a certain algebraic function.  Then he looked out at the class comprised of kids from grades 7-9 and said, “I bet you guys can do this.”

Often people use sarcasm and trash-talk to try to get people to perform.  You see this often in sports contests.  Others try to guilt people into better performance in this or that arena of life.  But this teacher, an ace, used an opposite tack.  He set the bar high and confidently told the students they had what it took.

The result? You guessed it.  The students rose to the challenge, solved the problem on the board and learned.

I can’t tell you what concept we learned that day.  But I will never forget his leadership in the classroom.  It’s why he was a great teacher.

You can take away a number of helpful things from this example:

  • If you set the bar high for those you’re responsible for, you will be pleasantly surprised to watch them meet and exceed the goal.  Often we set it too low and then are baffled and frustrated by mediocre performance.  The same is true for the goals we set for ourselves.
  • Positive expressions of affirmation and encouragement will always be better than sarcasm and talking people down.  I’ve never yet met a great leader who is fundamentally sarcastic and pessimistic.

Challenge: Set some high goals for yourself for the slower Summer months as well as the time after Labor Day when the pace accelerates.  If you’re a leader, issue inspiring and tough challenges for those under you.  Then watch as you meet the objectives you’ve set.  It’s really not that hard.  It’s the pessimism, the internal and external trash-talk, that make the meeting of lofty goals difficult.  But you’re better than that!

Image Credit

Encouragement As Tipping Point

How many times have you heard the sentence “it was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”  We use these words when someone has reached an emotional breaking point.  Usually some relatively little thing pushes a person under duress to the brink.  They snap, blow up, break down.  It’s left to others to pick up the wreckage.

Such a moment may be called a tipping point.  Someone holds up against relentless pressure and circumstances until some minor thing causes them to collapse.  A straw.

A tipping point is an event in a defining moment that changes things in a big way.  In a life.  Sometimes in an entire culture.  The end of the Roman gladiatorial games in the Colosseum as a result of Telemachus’s protest comes to mind.   Or the  public 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in which her neighborhood witnesses did nothing to intervene and protect her.  This tragedy highlighted a culture of indifference and non-involvement.

I’d like to suggest that there are also such tipping points that result from continual encouragement.

There is always room in our world for another voice saying things like “you’re the man”; “you are beautiful”; “you have what it takes”; “you can do this.”  It often takes repeated positive affirmations to reach a tipping point in a life.   The point at which the recipient of the encouragement begins to believe it and act.

There are many broken homes in our land.  Families fractured and alienated.  Usually, the most potent fallout from a disintegrated family lands on the children.  This is not to say that fathers and mothers who’ve divorced one another do not encourage their kids.  Far from it.  But the absence of one of the parents and an intact family certainly has a devastating effect.

Young men need to be told they have what it takes to compete and win in the marketplace and in life.  Young women need to know they are protected, valuable and beautiful.

Continually encouraging human beings, especially the young, will no doubt cause such marvelous tipping points.  The point at which a person begins to see within themselves what God and others have known all along.  But it takes positive affirmation, repeated over time, to crest that watershed.

I challenge you to make it your goal to bring as many people, through your words, to a making point (as opposed to a breaking point).  Use your tongue as the creative instrument God intended it to be.  And watch as the light dawns in someone’s eyes as they realize that they are valuable, loved and eternally matter.

Image Credit