Sunday, June 8, 2008

Grace & Encouragement

God must have a sense of humor.

Yesterday evening, I had yet another opportunity to be frustrated... and to work on my "un-gracefulness" problem! Since I had JUST written the Grace & Forgiveness post earlier that afternoon, I was very much aware of how I was reacting to things. I did a better job of "biting my tongue," but... lets just say there's still a heart issue here that needs some work!

This morning at church we had a celebration for the kids and the workers who participated in our soccer camp this week. Everyone got a little award certificate. The kids were excited! Then Pastor Nathan taught about "Shooting for the Goal" (with a lot of great tie-ins to what the kids were taught during the week).

One of the verses he used was Hebrews 12:1 - "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Pastor Nathan said that he imagined the great cloud of witnesses to be kinda like a big stadium or arena packed full of fans. They're watching... but they're also cheering us on!

(As an aside... I never thought of the "cloud of witnesses" that way. I saw it more like a bunch of judges evaluating our performance here on earth. I kinda imagined them like "big brother" -- watching to make sure we don't mess up! It's neat to see that part of the passage in a more positive light.)

During soccer camp, there were a lot of folks on the sidelines cheering. People were just looking for excuses to praise the kids, and the kids would light up and smile every time. It made them want to work harder and get right back up when they fell down. At one point, one of the kids was trying to make a goal. He kicked the ball, and it hit a post on one side of the goal and bounced back to him. He kicked it again, it hit another post and bounced back. Then it happened a third time! But everyone was encouraging him to keep trying, and he kept his eyes on the goal.

That really hit me.

What if the soccer camp workers had reacted to a missed goal the same way I react sometimes to a missed order a restaurant?

More importantly... what could happen if I reacted to the waitress who missed my order with encouragement instead of criticism?

God really nailed me on that.

When I reserve my praise and encouragement only for those who make the goal, I'm missing an opportunity to help someone else turn a "loss" into a "win." So I'm going to try something this week: I'm going to make a conscious effort to find things to praise... even when it would be much easier to criticize.


NathanMartin said...

It's very humbling to see someone take my words and apply them to their own life, as you are doing so well. Thanks for the encouragement!!!


P.S. You're doing GREAT!

Jenni said...

Thanks for the comment... and thank YOU for the encouragement. It means a lot!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,
Sounds like your really growing in this move. Isn't God just so good-even in our weakness and wrong doings,he is gentle and loving and provides us with the way to change. (not that that is easy!) I have been stuck in this "Heart's Condition" fo sometime now. Grace is so much easier to recieve than give, but don't you ever give up!

Julia Mitchell said...

Hi I am involved in starting up an encouragement site here in Australia and just searching on encouragement and came across your post. I just want to say that I'm really excited for you and this great revelation of encouragement. You go girl!! Have a fantastic day.