Positive In, Positive Out.
Negative In, Negative Out.
Nothing In, Negative Out.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
One of the most critical points to take away from this study on “The Heart of Encouragement” is what happens when we are indifferent to people. We know that if we encourage people, encouragement boosts confidence, which affects performance in a positive way. When we encourage others, they perform better. It’s pretty common sense.
Discouragement creates doubt, which kills confidence, which affects performance in a negative way. When we discourage others, there is a negative outcome.
Here is a critical point: When we offer neither encouragement or discouragement, when we are indifferent, it creates doubt, kills confidence and affects performance in a negative way. So, in giving no feedback, it is the same as giving negative feedback. In some ways, it’s actually worse. Sometimes it is better to know that you stand in a negative space with someone than not knowing where you stand at all.
So, here is a simple formula to remember: Positive in gets positive out; Negative in gets negative out; Nothing in gets negative out.
The verse from Colossians 3:21 reminds, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” At the same time, don’t be indifferent to them either, because they will become discouraged.
Going back to the 5:1 ratio we discussed at the beginning of this study, ideally people should receive five positive inputs to every negative input. There are very few people who receive this ratio of encouragement to discouragement. Encouragement can be as simple as a smile or a “thank you” or a “good morning.” Anything we can do to put something positive into the mind of our neighbor is a good thing. The thing to remember is that if we ignore our neighbor, it’s the same as if we are negative to our neighbor.
Let’s think for a second about the person who puts the groceries in our bag at the store. This person receives negative feedback if he or she breaks some eggs, or puts too much stuff in a bag. They probably don’t receive a lot of positive comments, not because they don’t do a good job but because people are too busy looking at or talking on their phones when checking out of a store that they don’t notice the people who work there unless they can’t find something or unless they do something wrong. A simple “thank you” can go a long way. It means, “I notice you and I appreciate you.” Negative input, of course, is going to be discouraging in this instance. But no input is going to leave the person bagging the groceries thinking that he or she must be doing a bad job, because no one is taking notice of them, except when they do something wrong.
When someone does something wrong, constructive criticism (notice the use of the word “constructive” as opposed to destructive, which is tearing someone down and completely shattering their confidence) is warranted. We are all quick to criticize when we don’t like something. We can all stand to learn to be better at complimenting when we like something. When someone gets something right, we’ve all got to do a better job of saying something positive. Because just as positive input results in positive output, a positive output by someone should result in a positive feedback, not in indifference.
Many of us have used the phrase, “that’s the best $20 I’ve ever spent.” Well, among the best instances of best $20 I’ve ever spent was when I waited outside while the garbage truck was in my neighborhood and offered the driver $20 to go buy lunch that day. He told me, “I drive this truck alone, and on most days I speak to no one the entire day. Thank you for making me feel valued today.” Money well spent!
We are all quick to point out when something goes wrong. We need to be even more quick when it comes to pointing out when something goes right.
Lord, thank You for the people around me who do the common things that I take for granted; like the clerk at the grocery store who puts my groceries in the bag, or the bank teller, or the sanitation engineer who picks up the garbage, who drives alone each day and probably talks to no one.
May I have opportunities to encourage and thank these people, so that they know they are important. Help me not to take the good things people do for granted, but instead to express my gratitude, so that others may feel filled with encouragement. Amen.
Positive in, positive out
Negative in, negative out.
Nothing in, negative out.
Don’t forget to be positive when something goes right.