So I recently pulled my article from the weekly e-newsletter that we send out to our church. I pulled it so we could focus on announcements and events in the newsletter and allow me to publish a separate piece every week or two.
I couldn't think of anything completely creative to call it so for now it is "Real Life with Levi". Anyway, here is what I wrote...
Like millions of others this time of year, I am trying to drop some weight. In fact, I am in a contest with 17 other people trying to lose the excess weight we have put on over the years. The other day I was remembering an encounter I had with an acquaintance a few years back. As I was shaking hands with this gentleman, he made a comment about me having gained a few pounds since we had last run into each other.
Right or wrong, I thought of a lot of stinging comments to fire back, but I managed to shrug it off on the outside while I was reeling on the inside. In that moment, this person was removed from my “safe” list (I don't really have a list). It almost felt like a power play of sorts, a way of putting me on my heels. I’m not sure if I landed on my heels or was just highly offended.
Contrast this encounter with another person that I see once every three or four years. His name is Jerry Gardner and while we are not best buddies, I always look forward to seeing him. Beyond his being a great guy, he is a “safe” and encouraging person. Around the same time I had the first encounter, I saw Jerry and he said, “Levi, you look great. Have you lost some weight?” The truth is that we both knew I hadn’t lost any weight but it didn’t matter, Jerry drew me in with his words instead of putting me in a definsive mindset.
One person used their words to insult and create distance and one used their words to encourage and draw me in. Guess which person I look forward to seeing? Am I pushing for us all to walk around distorting the truth? No! But I am pushing for us to find ways to be “safe” and encouraging people. Do people cringe when you walk into a room or are you a refuge from what they are used to hearing? Hear these words from Romans 12...
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.