Life At Its Best: Focus on strengths, not weaknesses
By Jim Graff
Dec. 28, 2012 at 6:28 a.m.
Everyone has flaws, and everyone has weaknesses. Sometimes it's hard to see our own imperfections, but when it comes to picking out others, we're usually pretty good.
This can especially prove true in marriage. A couple of years ago, while counseling a couple, I asked them to explain the things about their spouse that frustrated them. They both, almost immediately, rattled off a pretty lengthy list.
I followed up by asking them to list everything they loved and appreciated about each other. This list took a little longer to form. But when they'd finished, the whole environment had changed. Before they left, I encouraged them to continue the exercise every single day.
It didn't take long before their marriage did a complete 180, because they quit focusing on each other's flaws and started encouraging their strengths. As they did, they began to grow both individually and as a couple.
That's the power of seeing and believing the best in people. Philippians 4:8 says, "You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on . the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."
The truth is that we all have flaws. If we let others' flaws become our focus point, we'll blind ourselves to the potential God's placed inside of them. However, when we choose to see and speak to their strengths, we place a confident hope in their heart that they can become the amazing person God's calling them to become.
Acts 15 proves this truth through the story of three missionaries named Paul, Barnabas and Mark. They traveled together, preaching God's message in city after city. But not long into the excursion, Mark decided to call it quits. He packed up and headed home.
After months of continuing their missionary work, Paul and Barnabas took a short rest. When it was time to start traveling again, Mark decided he wanted back in. But Paul refused to let Mark come. He didn't want the quitter tagging along. Barnabas, however, saw beyond Mark's previous weakness and believed in his potential as a missionary.
So he took him along, as Paul went his separate way. Barnabas continued training Mark throughout their journeys, and because of that encouragement coupled with God's power, Mark later became one of the most effective missionaries of his time. That's what happens when you believe in people.
Every person has greatness inside of them, but it has to be strengthened and encouraged. Like Barnabas, I urge you to start finding the best in others, even when they're at their worst. Speak to the gifts inside of them and push them to pursue God's purpose. You never know what your encouragement could do.
Is there someone you've given up on? Just know that it's never too late to begin focusing on their strengths and speaking to the gifts inside of them. You'll find purpose by helping others unlock their God-given potential.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.