By Steve Becker
John was having a particular difficult time finding what he wanted at Fleet Farm, until he met Kathy. She was eager to help him and give him the time he needed, including checking the warehouse stock, getting the item, and helping him put it in the cart. Besides telling Kathy how much he appreciated her, John decided to tell the store manager.
He found another clerk who had to go to the manager’s office and tell him there was a customer who wanted to talk to him. Seeing the manager approach, John could tell from his face he was expecting an angry encounter.
As John began to laud accolades on his employee, the manager’s demeanor changed. He told John he would use this story at an upcoming employee meeting.
A Total Wine Encounter
Prior to John telling me this story, I had witnessed him in action. I was making a quick pickup at our local Total Wine. We greeted each other, shared how good it was to run into each other, and then took off in our separate direction.
Unknown to John, as I wandered through the aisles, I saw him three more times. Each time he was engaged with either a store clerk or a customer. When I was in earshot I could tell they weren’t talking shop. John was taking genuine interest in the person and they were each enjoying the engagement.
The Art of Blessing
Christians have a unique ability to bless those around us. The concept “to bless” comes from the Latin bendicere, which literally means, “to speak well of”.
“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, who I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
A more accurate translation of the words the Father speaks at Jesus’ baptism is “This is my blessed child, in him I take delight.” Hopefully, we’ve heard the Father speak these words to us.
In his book Sacred Fire author Ronald Rolheiser states:
“Anthropologists tell us that there are three components to blessing. To bless someone is to see and admire that person, speak well of him or her, and give away some of your life so that he or she might have more life.”
As Christians we have the power in our encounters with neighbors, coworkers, customers, and suppliers to do just what John did with Kathy and her manager. What a contrast to what they normally hear day in and day out.
The Opposite of Blessing
The opposite of a blessing is a curse. This is essence what we are doing when we’re negatively judgmental and critical of others. It’s a curse in the sense we look at someone and think or say. “I wish you weren’t here. You irritate me and annoy me. I don’t like who you are and you are not worthy of my attention.”
We, as Christians, should be the most hopeful people. Jesus Christ has redeemed us to participate fully in the bringing forth his restoration around us. Wherever there is good, there is God, for all good comes from God. We are equipped to see the good.
We have the power in the Holy Spirit to see our neighbors, coworkers, customers and suppliers as significant and loved by God; made in the image of God and worthy of our attention. The best way to stop “cursing” others is to start “blessing” them.
And, as uncomfortable as it is, this includes our enemies, who we are called to love. This is the ultimate evidence that we are Christ’s disciples.
When we bless others, we create new space in their lives for God’s blessing and grace. We plant a seed by calling forth the good that is in them, acknowledging it, and honoring it. This helps them hear the Father’s blessing. “You are my child, in you I delight.”
Let’s be prepared to speak the good we see in others and then do it when we see it. It’s the speaking well of others that makes it a blessing.
Let us bring more blessing and less criticism into our world