Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)
This verse reminded me of a meeting that began by taking the time, and it took a fair amount of time, to go around the room and everyone announced why/how they thanked God for each person at the table.
In looking into the intent of the Proverbs verse however, the meaning has to do good for those who need help--like pulling over to assist with a flat tire.
Yet the more I thought about, I still think the greeting at the meeting fits the meaning of the verse. We do need help in knowing the good that people see in us--it is a powerful encouragement to know when our help helps.
It was interesting that as I sat and listened to the kind and specific words about me, I became uncomfortable. I was tempted to make a joke or even argue with my ministry team members. Why?
In part, I knew that some of what they said was not a consistent reality (which they probably knew too, the consistent part at least) but some of it was just a discomfort with healthy praise (God was credited with sourcing everyone's good stuff).
I did not have a completely resistant reaction, I did feel encouraged to continue to serve and help in lots of ways, as many made clear that my ministry work was having a positive influence on others--but in general, I wanted my turn to pass and get back to honoring others. Why?
I know its hard to take criticism, makes me defensive but why would encouragement make me defensive too?
I wonder if it plays on my doubts that God would use me, in spite of a diverse list of flaws for some real impact on His Kingdom. I wonder if I think it is safer to live with the idea of small influence versus the idea that God has given me much opportunity to serve and share--and the reality that He is working through me to His purpose raises the stakes.
When others make it clear your play a relevant part in the execution of plans and ideas, then your connection to the continued work grows. The temptation to rest on laurels was not really evident, instead it was a humbling reality that if my service helps directly, than I need to remind myself again and again not to withhold anything that might be good for another.
It was a unique and powerful way to start a typical committee meeting and it shook me up to remember that even in meetings God works in so I can work out (Philippians 2).