A Kind Word Keeps Giving

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage others for what they are and can be.

It was in the spring of 1988 that I taught my first class, a single section of Composition I at UMKC. Other than the fact that I had pretty much no idea of what I was doing and got very little support from the person who was supposed to be shepherding me and the other graduate teaching assistants, everything that semester was great.

Somewhere along the line, each of us exchanged a set of papers with another teacher so that we could grade each other’s students and sort of regulate our evaluation. When I got my students’ papers back, I couldn’t believe the savaging that this other teacher had inflicted on papers that I saw as fairly decent. Suddenly, I found my confidence shaken. Did I have any idea of what I was doing? Did I really have any business in front of a college classroom?

Somehow I wound up in the office of Joan Gilson, one of the school’s more seasoned teachers. Joan looked over those papers. She was probably overly generous, but she assured me they were not as bad as my colleague had painted them.

I’m not sure I’d be completing my twenty-ninth year of teaching English if Joan hadn’t taken that twenty minutes out for me. Sometimes a simple act of encouragement can have a momentous effect.

  • Do you naturally see the weaknesses and failures of others or their strengths and victories?
  • Look around your life. Who can you encourage today?
  • Resolve to pray that God will open your eyes to the people who need your positive words in the coming weeks.

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