When I was a teenager, it seemed to me that everybody else pretty much had it going on and I was on the outside looking in. Only much later in life did it dawn on me that everybody else was struggling just as much as I was. They were just better at pretending self-confidence.
People are cruel. Children are cruel. Teenagers can be especially cruel. They are masters of mockery, cliques, exclusion, castes, boasting, gossip, and sarcasm. All these things just cover for their own inner fears and depression.
Do these teen dysfunctions sound like your adult world? Rise above it and shock people by being different. Let your Jesus show and change the culture. Choose to praise instead of belittle: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:1,2). Anyone can mock somebody else. It takes a Christian to look for good in people and praise them out loud.
People are starving for affirmation. Most people I know are running on fumes, burdened with health problems, money stress, family troubles, and self-doubt. Looking for things to praise in other people costs you nothing and might lift someone out of a huge hole. Tomorrow pick one person just because and choose to praise him or her.
Don’t wait till you feel it. Go first.
Pastor Mark Jeske brought the good news of Jesus Christ to viewers of Time of Grace for 18 years. He is currently the senior pastor at St. Marcus Church, a thriving multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.
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