Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Blessing others

In chapter 3 of Michael Frost's little book 'Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People,' he breaks down the first "habit": BLESS. The suggestion is to bless 3 people each week - at least one of whom is a part of your church, and one of whom is not.

He gives some background on the meaning of the term "to bless." Technically it involves the act of consecrating something or someone. However, as he describes, when the Bible was being translated into Old English, the term was chosen to translate the Latin benedicere and the Greek eulogein, both of which have the meaning "to speak well of; to praise." Today Christians use the word 'bless' for everything from a response to when someone sneezes to a way to pronounce or make someone happy.

Frost prefers describing the term "to bless" as "to add strength to another's arm." As he says, "In this respect, to bless others is to build them up, to fill them with encouragement for them to increase in strength and prosperity." Adding strength to another's arm can be anything from relieving a burden, helping them breathe easier, or anything that lifts their spirit or alleviates their distress. It can be large or small.

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Kindness
  3. Gifts
He rightly points out a few cautions about blessing others. First, it must be sincere. For instance, with words of affirmation, encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from another's perspective. Shallow words may make US feel better, but do little for the person we intend to bless.

Secondly, the point in blessing others is to BLESS them, not to manipulate them into doing something we want. Being nice to people so we can try to convert them or get them to come to our church is not really blessing them.

The third caution is related to the first two - the key to successful blessing is that the recipient must feel blessed. Our action ought to "add strength to their arm." Thinking we know what's best for someone else, or giving out of our own "love language" may actually make others feel worse. The point is to get to know THEM, discover THEIR love language - what makes them feel blessed?


So, this seems a pretty simple admonition at first glance, but it really does take a different approach to life. As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." That is something that is much easier said than done - especially on a regular basis.

As I thought about this, it really did smack me upside the head that I do not have this mindset the way I used to. There was a time when I was much more aware of trying to be a blessing. When one goes through a period of suffering or pain, it is much more difficult to be mindful of others. So while it seems like a no-brainer, it really does require intentionality.

To be honest, I don't really FEEL like blessing others right now. I haven't written a word of encouragement to someone in a long time. I used to do it quite regularly. I'm thinking this is a habit I need to start working on again - whether I feel like it or not. I could stand to be a more generous person, and I should want to be a more generous person. So, we'll give this a shot. Who knows. What's the worst that could happen??? ;)