Gracious Words

Every Tuesday morning our staff meets together. It’s called “Devo”, and it takes various forms; occasionally it’s mostly prayer requests and time praying. Sometimes there are tears and vulnerability. Sometimes there are powerful teaching moments.

Sometimes I get to be in charge, and there’s singing! And art! And creative things! Today was one of those days, and I thought I’d share it here.

I’d been thinking about a few things: The power of words, and the closeness of our staff, and the hectic nature of the holiday season, and the impending chaos of travel and all the things church folk do from Thanksgiving until Christmas, when the angels sing and we all collapse and take a week off. A plan began to formulate, and I set a few things in motion.

I contacted a few of our artists and asked for help; I distributed 5 x 7 canvasses and the names of our staff members and asked for a simple color wash and this text across the top:

I thank my God when I remember ___________

The blank space would hold the name of one of the staff members, so that each person would have their own pretty canvas.

The artists were awesome – one of them revealed some very ambitious skills and did a bit more decorating than we expected, which was impressive and extremely special. It did force me to explain that their was nothing personal in the fact that eight people got fancy trees and flowers and such, while the others got a color wash and ONLY a color wash – but it ended up absolutely perfect in every way, and I’m so grateful for Amy and Connie and Mary contributing their time and talent to honor these folks in this way.

It was good.

I read a verse, from Proverbs, and talked about the power of words. We often say, “Words matter” around our workplace, and it’s true. Even for those who are not, by nature, “words people”, the power of a well-timed word of encouragements and affirmation can carry weight beyond our understanding. As we approach the time of year that will leave us all with too much to do and too little time, it will be easy to lose sight of the fact that we are bound in unity with one another, in our calling and our sharing and the way we do life together, as we work together.

Ministry is hard work. You often find yourself offering things that people aren’t sure they want. Humility is a requirement, and it’s not always easy to access. Somebody is always disappointed, or mad, or hurt, and managing healthy compassion with honest self-differentiation is a challenge. The culture has shifted, and acceptance of spiritual leaders is often tinged with resentment, disinterest or worse.

But here we are, and off we go to do our work each day, and one of the greatest benefits is the family that we’ve become. So, today we took the time to share our words and our thoughts, to let one another know why each one mattered. It was a beautiful thing to me, and afterwards, as I read over each canvas, the world looked just a bit brighter.

My friend Kriston often says, “Be kind”. I agree. Be kind. Be gracious. Kindness would go a long way to ease suffering, bring understanding and begin healing.

Start with yourself today, and then let it spill over into your family – even the challenging members – through this holiday. This much is true:

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul 
and healing to the bones. – Proverbs 16.24



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