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encourage or discourage

Have you noticed that very few human interactions are truly neutral?  In other words, regardless of how short or long our interaction may be, we usually leave the interaction feeling either better or worse.  It may be slightly better or only slightly worse, but we typically leave the interaction a different person.

Now, in some cases, we leave the interaction drastically different.  Perhaps a kind word redirects a very bleak morning.  Or, as it sometimes happens, we leave an interaction with our heart racing and our blood boiling.

Because we are social creatures, our social interactions leave an imprint.  When we rub shoulders with another person, something rubs off.  The residue might be barely noticeable or glaringly obvious.

When Christians interact with other Christians, one of two things will make up the residue: encouragement or discouragement.

Encouraging people spark joy instead of controversy.  They delight in finding the right word rather than the damning word.  These are the people you look forward to interacting with.  You might say, these are the descendants of Barnabas.

Discouraging people have the spiritual gift known as “poo-poo.”  They poo-poo a good opportunity.  They poo-poo a good morning.  They have the ability to find the darkness in the midst of a bright room.  These are the people who cause you to internally stiffen as you see them approaching.

For most of our interactions, we may not even stop to think about the residual effect.  We order our coffee and leave.  We hold a door (or don’t) and move on.  What if we were more conscious of how we affected people?  Would we pause or slow down instead of rushing on through?  Would we smile more often?  Be less critical?

Let me challenge you to think ahead during your next social interaction.  What would you like the person to think or feel AFTER you have left?