STEP ONE: Relationship - Build it!

Philemon 7 (NIV) Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.

7. Communicate how much this person has done for you.

I went bowling for the first time in 20 years last weekend. Out of three games, my highest score was a 96. In college, I averaged 165. It was frustrating.

I had a good excuse for my poor play. I had rotator cuff surgery two months before and, therefore, had to use my left hand. I am not left-handed. Still, I thought I would do better.

As I played (poorly) I noticed that one thing has changed in the bowling world from 20 years ago - scoring is automatic. I wonder if young people growing up with electronic score-keeping know how the scoring in bowling works.

Though score-keeping in the bowling world has changed, some things are still the same. You still get to see and hear the ball knock the pins over. And it is still loud. It is cataclysmic. You get instant feedback. And by making adjustments based on the feedback, performance improves.

Imagine what bowling would be if you never saw or heard the ball hit the pins? Not only would the game be boring, but you would never improve. You would never know if what you were doing made a difference.

The people in your life - those you live with, those you work with, those you play with, and those you worship with - will only know the positive impact that they have and are making in your life if you tell them.

While going to seminary, I taught catechism (basic Christian doctrine) to a bunch of uninterested seventh graders. I felt like I was bowling in the dark with the sound turned off. I just couldn't connect. They were often rude and uncooperative. I felt like I was throwing gutter balls in every class session.

When has this happened to you?

Four years later, after finishing a chapel talk in the same Christian high school that I attended years ago, I was about to get in my car when out from the school came four young men calling my name. They were older, but I recognized them. They were from my seventh-grade catechism class. They thanked me for our time together in the "old days” and told me that it made a big difference in their lives.

I would never have guessed.

We often have no idea the effect we have had on people until someone tells us.

Hearing that you made a difference in someone else's life is the sweetest music there is. Remember, it goes back to our spiritual dream, which is to connect with God and to make a difference in the lives of the people around us.

Make a habit of telling the people in your life what they have done for you.

Tell your spouse how they have blessed you by providing money, making you laugh, keeping things in order, challenging you to try new things, making life exciting, calming things down, creating an environment of stability, dressing nicely.

The other day at a Bible study everyone was asked what person in the past had the greatest spiritual influence on them. And when it was my wife's turn to speak, she said, "My husband.” Priceless.

Tell your bosses how they have blessed you by providing a job, giving you new challenges, believing in you, making your life interesting, opening doors of opportunity, giving you permission to fail and try again, helping you explore possibilities.

Tell your children how they have blessed you by taking their responsibilities serious, working hard at school, giving joy to your life, making you proud of their accomplishments, living their lives as bold ambassadors for Christ.

As you read this you may be saying to yourself that your spouse, your boss, and your kids do not do these things. That the list I have given you just reminds you of all their faults and shortcomings.

Shame on you. Don't look for the negative. Is the negative there? Of course. But that is not what we are doing here. We are looking for good things. So stick with the program of looking for good things.

Search for good things to say about the lives of those around you with the same passion and enthusiasm that you would have if someone hid a bag of gold in your backyard and then told you that if you found it, you could have it. Because let me tell you, it is gold. It is better than gold.

Why do people tend to gravitate towards finding the negative in others instead of the positive?

My oldest son left with his wife and two kids (our grandkids) to live in Ecuador. The night before he left, my wife and I cried like babies (those that have had children move away know what this is about). I woke up at 3 am and I wrote a long letter to him, and I said all the things I wished I had said all along - positive, uplifting, father-to-a-son proud words.

Gold. Better than gold.

This is what Paul does with Philemon. He builds the relationship by communicating what Philemon has done for him.


Sometimes it is hard to know if the people around us feel blessed by what we try to do for them. Why is it good, once in awhile, to hear how well we are doing in blessing them?

Philippians 4:10,15-16,18-20 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it... 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need... 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

How do you think Paul's words of thanks affected the church at Philippi?

Who in your life blessed you in a way that made a difference? How might you tell them that they made a difference in your life?

Why is it more effective to tell someone some positive thing they did for you as opposed to just telling them something positive about them?

One excuse people give for not telling people what they have done for them is that no one has done this for them. "Why should I compliment this person when that person has never complimented me?” What role does fairness and unfairness play in the execution of communicating to others how much they have done for you?

Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2018, 9:07 AM