“Always Encourage and Celebrate” WAY #4 – “Assume Positive Intent” WAY #5

WAY #4. ALWAYS ENCOURAGE AND CELEBRATE (July 28–August 4). Show gratitude and appreciation by regularly acknowledging the good works you see everywhere. Look for signs of spiritual growth and maturity among our members and staff. When you see it, point it out and rejoice. Pass on good reports that you hear about others. (1 Thessalonians 1: 3, 4)
 
No matter who it comes from, criticism doesn’t feel good, and recent studies are finding that it doesn’t do a lot of good, either. Psychologists at Stony Brook University found that when children receive frequent criticism from their parents, they’re more likely to develop anxiety, depression and social withdrawal that may last a lifetime. As people filled with the love and hope of Jesus Christ, we’re called to pour love and hope into everyone we meet. A kind word has immense power on a personal and communal level. It’s as refreshing as a cool glass of water on a sweltering summer day. Encouragement breathes new hope, life and grace into everyone, which helps all of us thrive.
 
WAY #5. ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT (August 4–11). Decide to trust that other members are being fair, honest and concerned for the well-being of our church. Set aside your own judgements and preconceived notions. Surrender the urge to criticize and judge—it doesn’t help. (Matthew 7: 1)
 
There’s a lot that goes on beneath the surface of a single human being. We’re all messy, broken and complex, but guess what––God’s not in the business of writing people off. And neither is the church! The Bible is filled with story after story where God calls on unexpected (and even unlikable) characters to lead, serve and transform communities.
Assuming positive intent means taking off your glasses of judgment and letting God hand you a new pair. Warning: you may notice a sudden change in your vision. You’re no longer focused on others’ annoyances or weaknesses. Instead, you recognize something compelling in everyone, and you wonder if it’s been there all along. It’s God’s divine image. It’s the revelation of Colossians 3:11: “Christ is all, and is in all.”
 
Maybe it’s hard to see potential in others because you don’t see it in yourself. Maybe it’s time to exchange your old glasses for God’s prescription of grace.