Refill with Randy – Praise and encouragement helps you and others in an unkind world

By Orleans Hub Posted 21 May 2023 at 8:00 am

Today I would like to I would like to encourage you to start a praise drawer. Early on in my ministry I started to fill a drawer with cards, letters, pictures, drawings, etc. that people had given to me that either acknowledged something I had done that they appreciated, affirmed my call, let me know that they were praying for me, or something that just generally brought a smile to my face and boosted my spirit. I especially cherished the pictures the children would draw for me.

Admittedly I used to also keep a criticism drawer filled with not-so-nice notes or e-mails but I realized a while back that it wasn’t very good for my mental health and cleaned it out. Ironically, I realized that both drawers were filled with things from the same people

The reality though is that I have been collecting these mementos for more almost three decades and every now and again when I am going through a difficult time, when I am feeling discouraged, when I am questioning my call, or when I am hurting from something someone has said or done, I will open this drawer and read a few of the notes in an effort to counteract the criticism. I’m not saying this always works (it’s true that we tend to remember the negative more so than the positive which is why it is suggested that we need 7 praises to counteract 1 criticism) but it does help to give me perspective and is a good reminder that just because someone might act unlovingly toward me that it doesn’t mean that I am unloved.

One item that does not fit in the drawer but is now hanging on the wall of my home office and is particularly meaningful is a framed piece of art that I received back in 2016. At the time I was part of a Men’s Small Group that got together weekly at Dunkin’ for Bible Study and prayer and there were guys who attended from a number of different churches in the area. One of these men, Bruce, showed up at my church out of the blue one day with a gift for me. It was a surprise not just because I had not been expecting it but because at the time I barely knew Bruce and he was an active member of another church.

As he handed me the gift I quickly discovered that it was a framed picture of what I had posted as my Facebook background a week earlier. Bruce then explained that when I posted it it had resonated with him and in response he wanted to do something to remind me that pastors need to be loved and encouraged too. I was really taken aback because not only had this new friend gone out of his way to show another church’s pastor love and appreciation but he did it when he himself was struggling with a terminal illness. My buddy Bruce has since passed away but his extremely thoughtful gift remains on my wall as a daily reminder that I am cared about.

Friends, in case no one has told you lately, I want you to be reminded that you too are loved and appreciated in spite of any criticisms you may have had cast your way. So, to that end, I would encourage you to do three things this week

(1) Create your own praise drawer and start stashing away meaningful messages and other items for a rainy day.

(2) If you do have a criticism cupboard (physically or even just in your mind) clear it out so that you can forgive, forget, and not allow  past comments to continue define how you see yourself in the present.

(3) And finally, be intentional about filling other people’s praise drawers. We live in such a negative, critical culture that a hand written note of affirmation or thanks, or even just a thoughtful text, can mean the world to someone. So, why not stop and take a minute to make someone’s day? It won’t cost you much but it might make a significant difference to the person who is feeling knocked down and needs to be reminded of how valuable they truly are.