Encouraging the behavior you’d like to see repeated is the most certain way to see it happen again. Encouragement confirms love and drives security straight to the heart of your child.
I know in this two ways, how it affected me and how it affected my daughter.
I quit wrestling when I was a senior in high school. I had wrestled overseas the summer before. I’d already beaten four guys who placed int the top four at the state tournament in their weight classes. And, I quit.
My dad was my coach. To say he was “old school” wouldn’t give the old school enough justice. They watched dad and then defined what “old school” meant. I was enjoying success in matches and in practices. So, he assumed I didn’t need encouragement and spoke not a word of it to me. He gave my teammates plenty of positive reinforcement, but not me.
By thanksgiving, I’d had enough. I took my shoes into the coaches’ room and handed them to him. I told him I quit. It wasn’t worth it to me to work so hard with so little encouragement. To my dad’s credit, he heard me and changed. I didn’t ultimately quit and went on to have a very good year. I gave up my dream for lack of encouragement.
I Am So Proud of You!
Last week I had one of those obligations that makes a pastor crazy. I had to go to a quilting bee and welcome them to our church. It turned out to be a much more interesting event than I expected. Ladies from our church made a centennial quilt with scenes from the town’s first 100 years.
I arrived at 7:00 p.m. after picking up my nine-year-old daughter from her basketball practice. She had not eaten dinner and was tired from practice. I promised her I’d make it as short as possible. But, it dragged on. We left a little after 8:00. She got a quick bite of dinner and then hopped into bed.
As I was tucking her into bed, I apologetically thanked her for her patience, “You were such a good girl tonight. You took an interest in their quilt and spoke up loudly when they asked you questions. You treated those older ladies so well. I am so proud to take you out with me!”
As I spoke those words, she closed her eyes, as if to concentrate all her powers on listening. Her lips curled at the edges and her cheeks relaxed into the most pleasant, self-satisfied smile I had ever seen on the face of a human being. She soaked it in. I wanted to keep talking just so the sublime smile would never fade!
It occurred to me then. I will never have to worry about taking her on a pastoral call again. Hell will freeze over before that little girl would give herself the freedom to disappoint dad. I’ve never felt so weak and so powerful at the same time before in my life.
“Lord, make me quicker with words of encouragement to everyone I meet.”