Lift Each Other Up

My last post was about building each other up. That topic and this one tug at my heart. As God’s children, we not only need to build each other up, we need to LIFT each other up. 

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Great leaders don’t rise to the top by stepping on the backs of others.  Great leaders are lifted to the top on the shoulders of those who follow them.  

Jesus’ theory was that whoever wants to be great must be a servant of others rather than promoting himself (Mark 9:35).  Of course, any theory held by Jesus wasn’t exactly theory; it was (& is) the very Word of truth.  In fact, Jesus demonstrated his theory in action when he humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8).

We will never grow to be who God wants us to be by holding others back. We are at our best when we allow others to be at their best.  The family of God is placed together to create a strong body, and without every part of the body, we cannot function properly. God has put us together, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).    Mutual concern for each other makes us strong.

It’s on my heart to say this: Christian brother or sister I need you.  You are important and you are needed.  I cannot be at my best unless you are at yours.  How can I lift you up on my shoulders so that you shine as brightly as you can with the love of Christ? How can I celebrate the way God is using you as part of His kingdom? How can I step out of the way so that your light can be clearly seen?

Should we want to be used by God? Absolutely. But it’s deadly when we need to be. Being loved by God sets us free to celebrate whomever God uses.                                   –Mike Donehey,                    Tenth Avenue North

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Celebrating the achievements of others makes us all stronger.

Lord, Help me to celebrate others, their gifts and their achievements.  Show me how to give every opportunity for them to shine in your kingdom.  Like a forest set on fire with your truth, may our mutual flame be inextinguishable. May we bring glory to You together!

Build Each Other Up

IMG_4888 When I was a kid we used to drive by a beautiful red barn on our way to the city. I always looked for it because it was tall, stately, and brightly decorated. One set of barn doors was painted with big white diamonds like an argyle sweater. Another sported a large bulls eye. Great creativity had been used in designing the exterior. IMG_4890

 

Over the years however, no one took care of the barn and its needed repairs. The paint began to fade and eventually it cracked and peeled. The shingles wore out, the roof sagged, and recently some of the doors fell off altogether. If you were to drive by the barn today, all you would see is a tired symbol of American farm history. IMG_4887

 

 

People are like that old barn. We need regular maintenance too. While it is true that God alone can maintain us, He gives us the privilege and responsibility to care for each other. First Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (NASB).

 

Do you see it? Encourage one another and build each other up. The two go hand in hand. At least five times in the New Testament the Apostle Paul uses the words “build each other up.” That’s why I’ve made it my goal to speak encouraging words to others. Let me encourage you to do the same.   Every day we have a choice to build up God’s kingdom, or tear it down. Let’s stick together. The world does a great job of tearing us down. We hear negative words and criticisms every day. Let’s choose to be builders rather than part of the demolition crew.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles posted on the Internet criticizing the way some of us do church.  They tear apart our belief in the Scriptures, criticize the size of our churches, and lambaste the way we worship.  It breaks my heart. If someone has a different approach but is reaching people with the true message of Christ, Praise. the. LORD.  It takes all of God’s “hands and feet” (us) to reach this world.  That’s the privilege He gave us.  Cherish it, and be a builder.

1Therefore I, (Paul) the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-5 NASB).

Think about what a difference you could make if you were to devote yourself to building others up according to what they need. You know the girl who stays in the background at youth group? Build her up. You know the Sunday school teacher who loves on your kids so you can worship in peace every Sunday? Build her up. You know the youth worker who selflessly gives of her time? Build her up. What about your sister on the other side of the room? God will give you the words. Recognize the way she loves Jesus. Remind her of God’s love for her. Make others stronger by the words you choose. Use Scripture to encourage, and thank God for the privilege of helping to build His kingdom!

*Lord, give me the courage and the discernment to be one who builds others up according to their needs.

 

Loving our Differences

It’s been a very quiet week at our house.  That’s because our twelve year old is away on a youth missions trip.  I’ve heard little snippets from the week through social media, including the fact that my daughter was one of a group of kids that were asked over loud speaker to STOP SINGING in the top of the St. Louis Arch. I’m not surprised (actually I think it’s pretty funny–and I’m dying to hear what song they were singing).

The reason I am not surprised is that my daughter Olivia is very outgoing.  She is one of the most energetic and unafraid people I know, and she makes her presence known where ever she goes.  Adults have mentioned Olivia’s boldness to me, and others make mention of her self-confidence. I have worried that her boldness will put others off.  I have worried that she will be kept from opportunities in life if she is not more calm and considerate.

I have struggled with trying to stifle Olivia’s enthusiasm at times, myself a more cautious personality.  I have worried that others will see her in a negative light.  I have tried sometimes to make her more like me, perfectionistic and careful.  There.  I have confessed.

But God is showing me a different picture.

I am realizing more each day how beautiful Olivia’s differences are.  I can see the abilities she has and the opportunities that would not come to a person like me.  I see the leadership potential (and even the leadership currently working in her).  I am learning, instead of trying to make her like me, to help her to be the best HER she can be.  I am learning to trust God with who she is.

I am proud of Olivia because she has an unashamed faith in Christ.  I am proud of Olivia because she is mature and responsible for her age, and I can trust her with many things.  I am proud of Olivia because she is good at caring for children.  I am proud of Olivia because she is a very hard worker and often goes above and beyond what is asked of her.

At the end of the 6th grade Olivia received an achievement award from her teacher.  It is one of two awards given in the classroom for outstanding students in academics and citizenship.  Olivia was ineligible for the citizenship award because she had received that award from her 5th grade teacher last year.  Following is just some of what Olivia’s sixth grade teacher said about her when giving her the Outstanding Achievement award:

“Outstanding Students know what it means to be successful.  Outstanding students extend themselves to learn beyond the classroom, many with the help of technology.  The recipient of this award demonstrates a passion for learning, a curiosity of ideas.  Schoolwork is always beyond the expected.  To put is simply, this person has enthusiasm for learning.  While many in room 122 exhibit these traits, this award was only for one student.  So the 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award goes to Olivia Gatchell.”

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Bravo Olivia!

We need to appreciate our differences.  Yes, even to love them. I extend this truth to adults in the workplace and in ministry settings.  I challenge you to look at someone you have tried to change and see the strengths he or she has to offer.  Then determine  how those strengths can compliment your own.  Now you are on your way to team building!  Now you are on your way to being stretched in new ways  yourself!

Yes, sometimes I have wanted everyone to be like me.  ~It would be so much easier that way~ and yet so much would be lost in the process.  Vive la difference!