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GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT

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Rev Andrew J Demotses

There are some churches that are vibrant and growing, while others always seem to be discouraged and struggling. What lies at the heart of this success or failure? It has always seemed to me that the difference can in large measure be attributed to attitude. If the people of a church build up and encourage each other, if they hasten to praise and emphasize the positive, the whole community is filled with optimism and a feeling of affirmation. But in those churches where negativity and criticism are quick to surface, discouragement and failure are sure to follow.

Some years ago, I attended every football game played by Peabody High School. When the season ended, the team was undefeated and had won the state championship. The secret of their success was a willingness on each player’s part to forego the limelight for the sake of victory. They deferred to one another when they knew that someone else was right for the play; they praised and cheered the player who did the job well and came through, no matter how insignificant his contribution. And after each game was won, the victory belonged only to the team, rather than to any individual not matter how great his skill.

There are lessons for each of us in that team’s example. If we want to be champions then we need to take an attitude check. Are we critical of our church leaders or of those who are in authority over us? Do we complain about the job someone is doing in the church, while remaining unwilling to accept any responsibility of our own? Do we have a negative and complaining spirit? If so, it is time to change and to begin offering encouragement and support to our leaders, and the praise that helps build one another up. We need to remember the wonderful advice of St. Paul who asked us “to encourage one another and help one another.” (I Thess. 5:11) He wanted us to remember that Christian people seek to build people up, and not to tear them down.
- Rev. Andrew Demotses

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