I Corinthians 13:2: “…and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (NIV)
I had the opportunity recently for another personal growth experience. After being convicted that our family needed to eat healthier, I chose to “tighten up” our food. I replaced unhealthy, processed food with more fresh fruits and vegetables. While that is a noble thing to accomplish, my attempt was a disaster. Instead of dinner being a time where we could come together and regroup after a long, hard day, it was filled with sullen attitudes, silence, and bad dispositions. Much later, in a quiet and calm environment, my husband very lovingly pointed out to me that even though what I was trying to accomplish was good, the way I went about it didn’t work. Even though I had good intentions, the presentation was all wrong.
How many times have I set out to do something positive, make changes, or have a positive impact on someone’s life and it has flopped? Maybe during those times I need to look less at my intention and more at my presentation. When we cushion the “growing times” in layers of love sprinkled with some empathy and compassion, the goal is more easily accomplished.
I started thinking back to times I have done a better job. For instance, at the beginning of the summer, I explained to my kids that they had to clean their rooms before their summer fun would begin. No friends over, no special outings, etc. until everything in their room had a place and the trash was tossed. I let them know I believed in them, that if they worked hard it wouldn’t take as long as they thought, and scheduled breaks of “free-for-all fun” outside in between blocks of work time. I presented my expectations to them with a loving, compassionate, “you-can-do-it” attitude…and the result was much different. Within a matter of two days, their rooms were spotless, they were proud of their accomplishments, and they even thanked me for making what could have been drudgery somewhat fun.
My challenge today is this, both to myself as well as to you. When you pursue a goal with good intentions, don’t forget the importance of the presentation. When cushioned with love, empathy, and compassion, the final result might be better than you imagined. And, you might find that you have learned something in the process as well.
In the scenario that started out my “growth experience,” it wasn’t a coincidence that while my husband cared enough about me to help me see my faults, his presentation matched his good intentions. He waited for the right timing, used the right words, and cushioned what he had to say in a way that built me up instead of tore me down. As a result, our conversation ended much more positively than my disastrous attempt at dinner that particular night.