One man said he and his wife had words but he never got a chance to use his. Words are powerful. We have the power in words to edify, to give life, but too often we use words to mortify and bring death. Have you ever stolen someone's joy with words or killed someone's self-esteem with words?
Someone has said that motivating people is like mining for gold. When you're mining, you know you have to go through tons of dirt, but you don't go in looking for dirt, you go in looking for the gold.
Man has been described as an earthen vessel that contains a treasure. That gives us a choice. We can look for the dirt (and it's there) but it will only bring hurt, or we can look for the treasure and motivate beyond measure. By the way, it's easy to make a mountain out of a molehill, just add a little dirt. It's natural to concentrate on the negative — the dirt.
Think of it this way: You're having dinner at a wonderful restaurant, the atmosphere is great, the food is wonderful, and you're having a great evening. Then you start your dessert and there's a dead bug in your chocolate mousse. Every time you think of that restaurant you don't think of the 90% of the meal that was wonderful, you think of that bug. You never go back, although the chances of a bug being in a dessert is probably once every 60 years. You could eat in confidence for 59 more years at a great restaurant, but you don't because you focus on the negative. Let's face it — it may be 10 years late — and it still bugs you.
It's natural to look for the dirt, and it starts early. I took my daughter to a huge parking lot to teach her how to ride a bike. I was excited! I said, "Breanne, I had to learn how to ride the bike on sand and rocks, but you get to ride on all this asphalt. You will go fast. You will feel the wind against your face. It's going to be wonderful! Look at all that asphalt!"
She said, "Daddy, what's that way down there?" I said, "Don't worry about that you're going to be a bike rider. Look at all this asphalt! It's going to be great!" She said, "That's a big pole way down there." I said, "Don't worry. Look at all the asphalt!! You're going to go fast!" She said, "If I run into that pole, I'll get hurt." I said, "Don't worry about hitting the pole, just look at all this asphalt."
So I put her on the bike, and I grabbed the seat and ran like crazy. We were going great! Just before I let go, she said, "Daddy, what if I hit the pole?" I said, "Breanne, you won't hit the pole. Look at all that asphalt." And I let her go. Breanne headed straight for the pole. She hollered, "Daddy, I'm heading for the pole." I said, "Don't worry, look at all that asphalt on the right. Just turn right." She said, "Daddy, I can't turn right. I'm headed for the pole." I said, "Look at all the asphalt on the left. Turn left." She said, "I can't turn left. I'm headed for the pole." She finally hit the pole, fell down and skinned her knee. When I got there she said, "I told you I was going to hit the pole." Why did she hit the pole? Because she focused on the pole. She thought about it, and she spoke about it.
Most of our negative words come from our focus. Most of us are pole hitters instead of asphalt lookers. We concentrate on the negative in the parking lot of opportunity, and cry out some negative words, which most of the time leads to a wreck on your bicycle of life. Powerful words that motivate come from the perspective of looking for the positive.
Remember: Forget the dirt because you'll only bring hurt; and concentrate on the treasure to motivate beyond measure. By the way, if you discover the earthen vessels around you contain a lot of dirt, don't forget the treasure buried the deepest is usually the most valuable. So, be patient and keep digging for the treasure.
Dr. Charles Lowery is pastor of Hoffmantown Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM.