“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Every day I sit at the computer, I’m reminded of how blessed I am. God has allowed me to help supplement our family’s income doing something I love – interacting with and encouraging people. Now my official job titles encompass much more, but in both of my ministries (companies I work for), one of the main privileges I have is interacting with, helping, encouraging and just resolving issues with a friendly smile. It’s something that comes naturally to me. This job reinforces that one of my spiritual gifts is the gift of encouragement. I’m energized by genuinely filling up others.
As the enemy so often loves to do, he tried to steal that gift from me by accusing me of being a hypocrite. Lying in bed at night thoughts of all the times I wasn’t encouraging or loving to my family would scroll through my head and I would think, “Which is the real me? The encouraging me on the job or the crabby me at home?” Then guilt would set in.
Until I realized that both are me. It was more of the context of the situation than my personality. It’s one thing to construct a friendly email that I can proofread multiple times if necessary to get my point across in the right tone and another altogether to try to find a friendly phrase to say, “Turn off the burner” when the food is bubbling over everywhere. In the everyday battlefield of life, I don’t always have the luxury of carefully constructed sentences when someone is about to step in dog poop or I need to be heard above the earphones, dog barking, and TV blaring. I’m working on more patience when I have to repeat the same direction four times because someone wasn’t paying attention, got distracted, or deliberately ignored me the first three times.
Since my family gets all of me – the perfect and imperfect – I’m working on phrasing things as lovingly with my family as I do those I work for and work with on a daily basis. I’m learning I can take a few extra minutes to say my direction in a better way – sometimes even when dog poop or spilled food on the stovetop are involved. I’m learning to make the sweeter way to word things my default switch so that when I’m in a hurry or having a stressful day, that is still what comes out of my mouth instead of harsh tones or “do it my way or else” attitudes.
For those of you who don’t know your gifts, I would encourage you to take time to find out what they are. I had no idea I had the gift of organizing but always knew I enjoyed coming alongside others to encourage, lift up, empathize, and just genuinely care. Getting to use those natural gifts inside me on a daily basis turns my job into a ministry that energizes me, has me looking forward to a new day, and satisfied at the end of the day that I made a difference. It’s not work. It’s a calling and I want the same for each of you my friends. That you will find your calling and be able to use it to make a difference with those around you. I’m going to be concentrating more on making sure my family receives as much encouragement from me as those I interact with through my jobs – after all, they are the first and most important job God gave to me.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015