Green Pastures, Quiet Waters

An Ounce of Praise

Every day a small girl came to school dirty. The teacher thought it looked like the same dirt day after day. She knew the child wasn’t getting the right attention at home. “You have very pretty hands,” the teacher told her one day. “Why don’t you go to the restroom and wash them so people can see how really lovely they are?” Delighted, the girl washed her hands and came back beaming. She held up her hands proudly for her teacher to see. “Oh, they are beautiful! See what a difference a little soap and water makes?” She said to the little girl as she hugged her warmly. Every day after that the girl came to school a bit cleaner. Eventually she was one of the neatest students in the school.

That teacher had learned that an ounce of praise can accomplish more than a ton of faultfinding. She could have shamed the child into cleaning up with words like “your hands are disgusting; do you live in a pigpen?”  But she understood that tearing down a child’s character is not going to achieve a desired result. 

Unfortunately for many of us, it is so much easier to criticise than to compliment, to find fault rather than focus on the positive things about someone. And if we do see the positive, we don’t generally take time to mention it.   Negativity breeds negativity, but positive input is an encouragement toward betterment.

Have you ever thought about why we withhold positive words when it would cost us nothing to give them? I have.  Here are some of my conclusions:   First, we get busy. We’re moving at high speed and  don’t take time to notice, much less comment on, the good someone else has done or the value they’ve added to our lives.If you are in any kind of leadership, you know how beneficial a genuine “well done” can be.

Another reason is because it is easy to become pre-occupied with ourselves. Even when we're with those we hold dear, we’re often reflecting on our own problems, plans and priorities.

Both of these instances can be corrected by simply slowing down and focusing our attention outside ourselves so we're more observant. Then it’s easy to find opportunities to give positive input and encouragement.

“Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.”  Romans 15:2

Our words are more powerful than we give them credit for. Encouraging others is something we should all do more of. The main goal, of course, is to build up those we care about  – to encourage and motivate them to be their best.  After all, we love them and that’s what we want for them. However, encouraging others with our words also causes them to do more, give more, and BE more. When those around us are absolutely glowing with the light of success, do we not benefit from the warmth?

The bible is a practical book; read what it says about this subject: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

I came across a quote recently that said, “Giving praise is much like giving love. The giver is usually

the most benefited. He casts bread upon the waters and often gets back cake.”


B. Klassen