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Give an encouraging wordcomment (0)

May 20, 2010

By Jean Roberson

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Alabama Baptist staff is happy to introduce a new women’s column to the state Baptist paper. This new column will focus on resources women can use in their lives of faith, whether lived out at home, in the workplace or in the church. The columnist is Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW — a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and as director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives. The column will run the first issue of each month beginning with the June 3 issue. Until then, we will run the column each week as a way of introduction to this new segment of the paper. 

It is a paycheck, a raise and a promotion. It is reward points and bonuses on credit cards. It is an encouraging word and recognition in the community.

It is positive reinforcement and it is one of the strongest ways to encourage behaviors. 

We are very familiar with it when dealing with children.

We give gold stars for Scripture memorization, a trip to the treasure box for doing a good deed in the classroom and a special treat for making a good grade. We don’t hesitate to say, “Good job!” We fully embrace the power of a reward when shaping our children’s behaviors and attitudes.

The idea of reward is central to our Christian faith.

We are promised life with God eternally in heaven, where we will receive our reward. In Philippians and 2 Timothy, Paul even likened the Christian life to a race, running to the finish line where a prize waits.

We are striving for something good.

However, we seem to lose all of that when dealing with adults. We seem to forget that we all are motivated by the idea of striving for something good, regardless of our age.

Our ways of interacting with our friends, co-workers and spouse are characterized by criticism, and we slowly lose the power of positive reinforcement. We, ourselves, become more focused on the negative.

Certainly there is a time for correction and suggestion, but our efforts to correct have to be balanced with encouraging words, words of gratitude and recognition that affect people so powerfully. 

Think through your day.

Can you identify one time when you missed an opportunity to encourage someone?

Did he or she do something well and you said nothing?

How would your relationship with that person change if you were to recognize and thank him or her for a job well done? 

Similarly can you identify one time when you critiqued a person for something that is usually done well?

Perhaps that person had a bad day and let something slip.

How would your relationship change if you had waited to say something until the person did the job to the usual standard and did it well?

Then you could have been affirming. 

When we balance our corrective words with our encouraging words, we find that our relationships in general become more positive. We create more energy and motivation in the people around us.

Even more importantly, we develop the ability to see the good things around us instead of focusing on the negative things around us.

It is the power of positive reinforcement. 

A Takeaway Value …
When you find you have to correct someone, also find time to encourage him or her for something done well.

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