Being encouraging when it doesn't come naturally
People think I'm naturally super encouraging, but my default is to be an "improver" (aka critical).
Yet, I also own a company focused on calling out the good without using fluffy cliches.
Both of those things are true and I do it without being fake. You can too. Read more about how below.
I just don’t want to lead anyone on.
In case you think “she runs Para Paper Co. - an encouraging card company, she must be super affirming all the time” … I want to stop you right there. ❌🙅🏻♀️
I don’t actually vocalize affirmation to my people well. (Ask my husband 😳) I’m working on it.
I forget in the moment.
It doesn’t occur to me.
And honestly, my first thoughts sometimes (often times) lean toward critique.
So when I read Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree, this quote rocked me:
“God is not given the praise he deserves when we ignore or deny the work he is doing in people.” p. 21
Woah. 🤯 Right?!
This changed my perspective.
The reason why I should compliment, praise, encourage, lift up others is more than just because I “should.” It’s because God is worthy of praise. But, like I mentioned, my natural tendency is to see the critiques, improvements, issues and faults (uh, hello plank in the eye verse 😬)
So what’s a girl to do? Just be fake⁉️ No.
Here’s the cliff note response from Crabtree’s book: Doesn’t matter.
Are you naturally full of peace and never stressed or anxious?
Are you naturally full of love and never get angry?
Are you naturally full of joy and never get discouraged?
Are you naturally full of perseverance and never get weary?
Of course not!
All these things are gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in us.
So if you’re not naturally encouraging or don’t have the desire to be… I’ve got good news for you:
✨Our God is a heart changer and desire transformer. We just need to surrender to Him.
“True affirmations are more likely to come out of a truly affirming heart, which is another reason why it’s so important to be going hard after God, working out our salvation with fear and trembling, pursuing holiness, and asking God to transform us from the inside out. Gordon Cheng put it well: ‘People who genuinely encourage other people are not putting it on. It comes out of who they are — or better, who God has made them.’” p. 68
So no, I’m not naturally inclined to see the affirmations first. But, God is changing me. And he can change you too.
The discipline to choose to ask God what to affirm and then finding the good in others, even if it takes a long time to come up with something at first, pays off. Just like any kind of discipline: consistency leads to habit.
“God is able, and he is able to make you abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8), including affirming those he has placed around you for the purpose of being refreshed by you. What hope is there for you? God.” p. 113
This was originally posted on Para's Instagram account - see the video that goes with this post below.