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Atta-Boy-November 6, 2023

Words of encouragement. You can't beat them!

Monday Morning Devotion-November 6, 2023


Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.     Proverbs 27:2

*This devotion is a three-timer.  It was first published in October 2005, then reprised in October 2016.  The message still holds true another seven years later since I doubt that it has  been read before  by current devotion readers. Yes this is our 18th year of publishing a weekly devotion. But, if you’ve read it before …Thank you very much, hope you enjoy it again.


"Way to go." 

"We couldn't have done it without you." 

"You're the best thing to come along since sliced bread." 

"You beat all, you know that."

            Are you feeling good yet?

            Words of praise.  Music to our ears.  There is nothing like the sincere praise of another person to make you feel good about yourself.  That's why I want to encourage you to be an encourager because the good you do comes back to you in one way or another.  If you praise other people you not only help them feel good about themselves, but they feel good about you as well.

            One of the gifts of the spirit that we all have is the gift of encouragement.  It is easy to do.  Doesn't cost anything.  There is something good that can be found even in the most odious of personalities.  Sure, sometimes we have to look a little harder to find something good to say or we may just have to heed the old saying, "If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all."

            Now, before you stop reading and say "that's sickening.  In fact, it's downright unrealistic. Nobody goes around saying good things to and about people all the time."  You are absolutely right.  It's true if we did that people would look at us like we are crazy.  Worse still, if all we had to say was something good all the time, we would lose our credibility.  People would wonder what planet we came from.

            But there sure is a lot of negativity out there.  People are used to hearing other people knocking this, criticizing that, and complaining about the other.  Whenever you can break out of that trap and bring something positive to the table it changes the complexion of the situation. 

            In the book Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul there is a story called "Escalator Angel."  In it Richard Stanford writes of a chilly February morning when he was taking the MARTA, Atlanta's public rail system, to work.  As usual everyone was caught up in his or her own little world reading papers, heads down looking in their briefcases, listening to headphones, but no interaction. 

            As he disembarked and stood waiting at Five Points, a connecting station for the next train, Stanford noticed an almost eerie quiet…total silence.  Then, all of a sudden there came a woman's voice loud, clear and echoing through the station:  "Good Morning."

            About a thousand heads snapped up.  They saw that the voice had come from this petite African American woman coming down the escalator.  She said:  "How y'all doing this morning?"  She got off the escalator, walked to the edge of the crowd, grabbed a surprised businessman's hand, shook it, looked him in the eye and said, "Good morning.'  How ya doin' this morning?"  The man looked at her, then smiled and said, "Fine, thank you."

            Next, she looked across the tracks to the other platform and sung out, "How y'all folks over there this morning?" 

            "Just fine," one man called out and others answered as well.  Then, people broke out laughing.

            Next she said, "That's good.  God sent me here to cheer you up this morning.  And that's the God of the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim and any other religions y'all brought or didn't bring along."

            You could see the twinkle in her eye as the train station came alive with conversations and good-natured banter all over.  When Stanford got on his train the first thing he did was say "Good Morning, how are you this morning" to the first person he saw.  She was surprised, but said, "Fine.  You know nobody has asked me that this morning."  Soon people all over the car were talking and there were plenty of smiles.  It all started because one little lady said some words of encouragement. She got people out of their comfort zone, and they became comfortable in another one.  The new comfort zone was a lot more fun.

            The late Zig Ziglar, super sales motivator, said in his book Over the Top, "The key to making it over the top is this:  Help enough other people get what they want." So, why don't we do more of that?  Well, we've got problems.  We are busy seeking solutions.  Gosh, could it be the solutions can be found easier if we get out of that shell. Wasn't it old anonymous who once said:  "A man who is all wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package."

            To polish up your "encouraging style" start at home.  In his book: Be an Extra-Ordinary Person in an Ordinary World, Dr. Robert Schuller related something he had always remembered from college called the 60/40 Proposition.  He said one of his professors told the class that the secret of a successful marriage was not a 50-50 proposition because that is one in which nobody is giving anything.  The professor said the secret of a happy marriage is 60/40.  "The husband gives in 60 percent of the time and expects his wife to give in forty percent of the time.  The wife gives in 60 percent of the time and expects her husband to give in 40 percent of the time.  You don't clash in the middle and say, "Now, it's your turn.  Instead, you intersect and overlap because you're each giving 60%".  This applies in encouragement, chores, planning, etc.  What is it country music singer Billy Dean used to sing?  "When it comes to love, you don't count the cost."

            So, the practice of praising and encouraging begins at home.  That sets a positive tone and gets you ready to follow through out in the world.  Maybe it will start for you as a simple smile and hello to another person.  Or you might really like the color of a person's tie or a blouse and express that.  You could thank someone for doing something that is mundane or expected and not usually praised.  There are a multitude of ways to selectively, without overdoing it, slip in a compliment or a word of encouragement .  Remember the Escalator Angel.  It's contagious.

            "Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns."  What kind of a person do you want to be?

Monday Prayer:  Lord, we praise and thank you for the ability you have given each of us to make this a better place.  Help us to be encouragers instead of discouragers.  Direct us as we look for the good in others and make them feel special.      Amen!



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