So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
-1 Thessalonians 5:11
Have you ever tried to open that one kitchen drawer with all the weird shaped stuff and it won't budge? Something gets jammed in there after it shuts and then when you try to pull it, it's just stuck?
You have to start jiggling the entire drawer in and out, trying to get things to settle a little lower. I usually make it worse, so eventually I have to shove my hand up inside and try to grab whatever edge keeps catching. Maybe you've never experienced that, but it's a regular occurrence in our house.
So the other day I'm trying to figure out what on earth is jamming the kitchen drawer. We've got paring knives, peelers, a garlic press, and all sorts of items in there.
I finally adjust things correctly and slide the drawer open, and I see this giant green handled knife filling up half the space. What on earth? The green knives are always kept in the wood block on the counter. We know this.
So I'm just about to open my mouth and with a condescending voice ask loudly, "Who was it that put the green bread knife in the drawer???"
And then I stopped. I realized that Bethany and I almost certainly didn't do that. We know where this stuff goes. That means that one of our kids did. That means that one of our kids was putting away dishes. And I was about to call them out for doing it wrong.
It was a tiny little "kairos" moment for me. A moment in time where you notice God whispering just a little encouragement to help you be formed more like Jesus.
Notice the movement, not the mistake.
I wonder how often I am quick to criticize an action that is just someone trying their best with the knowledge and skills they have? I do that too regularly. And yet so much of my own growth has been because others haven't chosen criticism when they certainly could have.
My church let me lead worship on my guitar when I was seventeen. I hardly ever play the guitar anymore, and I didn't do it well back then. It must have been rough! Yet it was an affirming experience, because people recognized my heart more than my lack of skills. It helped me have confidence in front of people.
I left a kid at a conference once when I was a youth pastor because I forgot to do a final count. The parents were forgiving, and I didn't quit ministry (I wanted to, I was so embarrassed).
I gave so many bad sermons before I started to feel even a little competent as a teacher (I need to be careful with this one because there a still a LOT of Sundays that are a swing and a miss). My congregation has been kind and gentle with me.
Jesus's disciples got it right sometimes and wrong a lot more often. Yet Jesus continued to believe in them, helping them walk forward even as they learned. He saw the beauty in their effort. He offered grace in their failures. I still can't believe that after Peter denied that he knew Jesus, that Jesus asked him to lead the entire movement.
Perhaps when we look at the moments that others don't get it right, we need to remember that there is often something worth affirming in the effort. And like a friend of mine likes to say, "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing poorly." I'm so quick to expect that others will get it right the first time, yet I know how much grace I've needed over the years (and still need, Lord have mercy!) of trying and failing, before getting some things right.
It's just a kitchen drawer. But I had a choice that day to criticize a mistake or affirm an effort. I know I'm conditioned to criticize. But I'm trusting Jesus to help me name the goodness far more quickly in those around me.
How about you? Where are you prone to notice the mistakes around you? How can you trust Jesus to help you find something to affirm just as quickly? You may never know how crushing your criticism is, or how inspiring your encouragement can be.
Jesus, slow down my quickness to criticize today.