She is dead now and so is he.
He was a friend of mine; lean, rangy, and muscular.
She was his mother. “You’re getting fat,” is what she told him, right up until the day he died.
Criticism will often cause you to see yourself worse than you are.
Did it ever occur to you that criticism – sometimes disguised as unsolicited advice – always springs from an assumption of superior intelligence?
When a person begins by saying, “With all due respect,” they are making it clear they do not respect you.
“Constructive criticism” is how they make you feel small while they tell themselves they are helping you. Ignore those people. Even the ones you love. They are having a bad day. Or maybe a bad life. Either way, don’t swallow what they are feeding you.
Criticism is destructive. Encouragement is instructive.
I am reasonably self-aware, I think. I believe I know the panoply of Roys that live inside me. The most widely known are Outraged Roy. Generous Roy. Foghorn Leghorn Roy. Introvert Roy.
Pennie and I have a friend who stays with us when he is in Austin. A few years ago he started a church in a weird part of the weird town he lives in. Last week, he sent me a text:
“Of all the Roys I know, my favorite version of you is Robe Roy. Robe Roy don’t give a shit. And if you lucky, you catch Robe Roy in a hat. Or them bluelight sunglasses. Eating a vitamin cookie. Drinking Shrooms. Feeding Squirrels. On a porch swing.”
I replied, “I like that Roy, too.”
My friend is an encourager. He will always find something inside you, no matter how ordinary you consider yourself to be, and then he will tell you a delightful new truth about who you are.
Does it surprise you that my friend’s very large congregation is teeming with beaten-down homeless people, cast-off prostitutes, struggling drug users, and a handful of regular folks like me and you who care about the broken and the broken-hearted?
They flock to that church because he makes them feel the love of God as they belly-laugh with glee when he tells wonderful stories from the Bible and gives them back their dignity.
And then they walk out the door with a smile of renewed hope.
A simple Welsh monk named Geoffrey – hoping to instill in his countrymen a sense of pride – assembled a history of England that gave his people a glorious pedigree. Published in 1136, Geoffrey’s “History of the Kings of Britain” was a detailed, written account of the deeds of the English people for each of the 17 centuries prior to 689 AD.
And not a single word of it was true.
Yet in creating Merlyn, Guinevere, Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table, Geoffrey of Monmouth convinced a dreary little island full of ordinary villagers to see themselves as a wise and powerful, magnificent nation.
And not long after they began to see themselves that way in their minds, they began seeing the reality of it in the mirror.
When I said Geoffrey told his countrymen a story, “and not one word of it was true,” I should have said, “not one word of it was true YET.” Geoffrey of Monmouth spoke a future truth about his countrymen because he saw something they did not see. He saw the greatness that was within them. So he called it out.
Geoffrey was not a flatterer. He was an encourager.
Encouragement causes you to see yourself differently. Embrace it, and you can become in reality that different person you saw in your mind.
“Encourage one another daily, while it is called ‘today’…”
That line from “The Letter to the Hebrew Christians” has always intrigued me. The writer emphasized our need of encouragement by adding these further instructions to the word “daily”… “while it is called ‘today.'”
One last little tidbit about that church: when they built an activities center with basketball courts and other fun things to do, they encouraged all the ragamuffin, latchkey, unparented kids to hang out there.
One man brings more than enough food from his Chick-fil-A for all those kids. I hope it does not surprise you that this generous man’s Chick-fil-A location has become one of the most high-volume fast-food stores in the nation.
A person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself is always an important person in your life, because they encourage you.
Everyone needs a person like that.
Why not become one?
Roy H. Williams
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