One thing I’ve learned about life this year is that you learn the most about leadership in the midst of leading. A lesson well taught by my friend and boss, Robert. He also taught me how to make a good sandwich…but I’ll get into that later. Part of being in a position of leadership on campus, especially if you’re on resident life staff, is having to tell people what to do and what not to do. I’m going to go ahead at this point and confirm that I do see the value and importance in this.
And now I’m going to move on.
There’s something that I’ve recently been re-made aware of. That is the amount of energy we put into complaining, being critical, and even being discouraging—saying things that are ultimately not going to uplift the people around us—even if we end up doing it by mistake. And by we, I mean I. Me. Myself. Don’t get me wrong…sometimes things happen, things are said, or you fall into some circumstance…and it sucks. But it already takes energy and faith to get through whatever’s going on in your life…so why waste any energy to complain, rant, or tell people to “ssstop it!”? Why not use those efforts to do something good? Why not chose to be of some encouragement to someone who may be having a really tough time, or hey, here’s a thought—act in maturity and handle your situation like an adult? And not like the drama-crazed “adults” you see on TV…but like the men and women that God created and desires each of us to be?
Twitter. You’ve heard of twitter, right? The social network where people post all of their personal, half-conscious thoughts as they’re falling to sleep at night? The network where it’s become largely acceptable for people to say whatever they want without being held accountable or taking responsibility for their words? I recently had a discussion with my girlfriend, Caroline, about the many utilities that Twitter has. I don’t “tweet” as much as I used to… The main reason is that a while back, I decided that I wanted to have a positive presence on the Internet. I wanted and still want the things that I say to be either encouraging & uplifting, or to challenge people and make them think. For a while, Twitter was where I would go to complain about whatever small misfortunes were happening in my otherwise wonderful life. It’s so easy to get caught up in yourself and lead yourself to believe that the rest of the world wants to hear about your “first world problems” in 140 characters or less. I know now that I don’t want to be one of those people.
Here’s the thing though—not only is it easy to post thoughts that drag the general public down, but it’s also extremely easy to consume it, let it bring you down and then react inappropriately to it… in which case you’re dispensing just as much effort wrongly reacting to a thought as the original person did when they posted it. This obviously carries over into face-to-face interactions as well. How much energy do we use telling others what they shouldn’t be doing? How much of that energy could be used instead to positively encourage them toward righteous living, and to live in such a way that sets a good example for them to follow? I think if we wasted less time and effort on being so critical of people and telling them what they’re doing wrong, and spent more time focusing on encouraging them through prayer and true Christian fellowship, that the world could be a much better place. Even if this kind of living and interaction started in the smallest of Christian circles. It has to start somewhere.
Point being: if we spent as much time and energy encouraging people as we do either intentionally or unintentionally discouraging people… think about the positive influence we could have on the lives around us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be calling out brothers and sisters when they’re not acting in accordance with their faith… but when you do, make sure it’s clearly being done out of love. That’s the only time your response is going to have any kind of positive splash. “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
And when you decide to complain about your “first world problems,” do it in love…
No. No complaining.
These are my thoughts from tonight. Though they might not be the best ordered, even a disorganized thought is better shared than lost. Next time you think about complaining, or criticizing someone… try encouraging them first. And if you still have to ask them to change the way they do something, at least present it to them in the form of a sandwich [compliment, work on this, compliment]. #leadershiplesson
Live in love…and try to be an encouragement to everyone—especially online if you do choose to share your thoughts with the whole world…and especially if you claim Christianity.
I write this largely for my own benefit—that it will be even more chiseled into my mind—but I hope that you can benefit from these thoughts as well… because we need more positive and encouraging Christians. Period.
Leave me a comment; I’d love to hear your thoughts!