This past week I photographed, watched and learned about the MN Vikings from a whole new perspective. A friend met me there mid-week, and admitted that this was never something she would have chosen to attend herself. I was glad to have her around though. During the practices, she sat on the bleachers & I ran around taking photos. One day as we walked away from the field, she mentioned something that has stuck with me the last few days. She told me about sitting in the bleachers, watching the team practice, and listening to the crowds cheer & root for them. They would praise the players who made a great catch, comment on the muscles someone had, cheer for a nice kick, etc...all encouraging the performance, abilities & physicality of a player. My friend noted that it's our society that praises these things, and that it's pretty common to do, but wondered what it would be like to live in a society that praised not the accomplishments necessarily but the character of the person before us.
Wow. Praise someone's character? That thought goes beyond winning or losing, but to the internal soul of what makes that person who they are, and the fruit that they are expressing. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13) ...encourage one another, there's no group here, it seems pretty broad, it's to be for everyone...and what are the things we should encourage each other about? "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...." (Galatians 5:22-23) These are the things that we should be praising...."Way to be gentle in that hard place", "You have such joy about this", "Your patience astounds me", etc. I'm getting excited just in writing this, to encourage someone today.
So what would it look like if we became a society that praised someone based on their character and not on their physical strength, skill or speed? How would that change people, and how would it effect each of us? Wouldn't you be strengthened inside to continue doing good & making decisions that would please our Heavenly Father? Let's be encouraged now, and freely give encouragement to those in whom we see Christ working through their character. Let's build each other up not only on our accomplishments but on who we are becoming through every situation & circumstance despite those accomplishments or failures. Let's let this life we live be a training camp of character, with the goal of heaven to drive us, so when we break camp, we can stand before the Father in bold confidence that he who began a good work in us continued through the end.