John was having a particularly difficult time finding what he wanted at Fleet Farm, the giant Midwest home and farm goods retailer, until he met Kathy. She was eager to help and provide the assistance he needed, including checking the warehouse stock, getting the item, and helping him put it in the cart. John told Kathy how much he appreciated her, but he wanted to go a little further and decided to tell the store manager.
He found another clerk who went to get the manager for him. Seeing the manager approach, John could tell from his face, he was expecting an angry encounter.
As John began to praise Kathy’s work, the manager’s demeanor changed. He told John he would use this story at an upcoming employee meeting.
A Total Wine Encounter
Prior to my friend John telling me this story, I got to witness him in action at our local Total Wine. After our happy chance meeting in the store and a brief chat, we took off in our separate directions.
As I wandered through the aisles, I saw John from afar three more times. Each time he was engaged with either a store clerk or a customer. When I was in earshot I could tell they weren’t just talking shop. John was taking genuine interest in the person, and they were each enjoying the engagement.
The Art of Blessing
Christians have a unique ability to bless those around us. The concept “to bless” comes from the Latin bendicere, which literally means, “to speak well of.”
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, who I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
Perhaps a more accurate translation of these words the Father speaks at Jesus’ baptism is, “This is my blessed child; in him I take delight.” In Christ, this is how the Father sees us as well.
In his book Sacred Fire, Ronald Rolheiser states,
Anthropologists tell us that there are three components to blessing. To bless someone is to see and admire that person, speak well of him or her, and give away some of your life so that he or she might have more life.
As Christians, we have the power in our encounters with neighbors, coworkers, customers, and suppliers to do just what John did with Kathy and her manager. What a contrast to what they normally hear day in and day out.
The Opposite of Blessing
The opposite of a blessing is a curse. This is essentially what we are doing when we’re negatively judgmental and critical of others. It’s a curse in the sense we look at someone and think or say, “I wish you weren’t here. You irritate me and annoy me. I don’t like who you are and you are not worthy of my attention.”
We, as Christians, should be the most hopeful people in the words we use of one another. Jesus Christ has redeemed us to participate fully in the bringing forth of his restoration around us. Wherever there is good, there is God, for all good comes from God. We are equipped to see the good—and praise it!
We have the power in the Holy Spirit to see our neighbors, coworkers, customers, and suppliers as significant and loved by God; made in the image of God and worthy of our attention. The best way to stop “cursing” others is to start “blessing” them.
And, as uncomfortable as it is, this includes our enemies, whom we are called to love. This is the ultimate evidence that we are Christ’s disciples.
When we bless others, this helps them hear the Father’s blessing, “You are my child, in you I delight.”
Let’s be prepared to speak the good we see in others and then do it when we see it. It’s the speaking well of others that makes it a blessing.
Let us bring more blessing and less criticism into our world.
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