The tardiness of the last few posts, including this one, can be attributed to the preparation for and recuperation from this fall’s Judson University Choir tour, which wrapped up on Sunday. The timeliness of it all–the tour’s conclusion coinciding with the conclusion of this series on using encouragement as a manifestation of our horizontal worship to our Lord–feels God-ordained, as I am full to the brim with examples of how the JU Choir and I were encouraged this past weekend:
- One of my favorite grad-school professors, Rev. Dr. Constance Cherry–who has appeared in this blog a couple of times already–hiked down from Marion to Muncie, Ind., to worship with us. It blessed me that this professor whose teaching so inspired me would make this effort. A couple of the choir members had parents in attendance that evening, too, which is always special.
- I got to reconnect with Judson alumna Lilia (Griffin) Morales at her high school alma mater, Delaware Christian School, where her mother directs the choral programs. I was so blessed to connect with Lilia and be encouraged by her life’s story and ministry.
- My son Austin traveled 2.5 hours with a couple of buddies from Waynesburg University in southwestern Pennsylvania to see his old man and to worship with Dad’s choir. Two former Judson choir members came that evening, too, including one, Val Boscaljon, with whom I had sung in the Judson Choir back in the mid-80’s.
- The JU Choir was privileged to lead worship with our president, Dr. Gene Crume, who delivered powerful words on how God calls us and knows us by our names and how those truths should provoke us to act toward our fellow Christians. Dr. Crume’s good words of encouragement after the service about the Choir’s ministry were a great shot in the arm at a point in the tour when fatigue–physical and emotional–was setting in.
There were so many others–a great service at the home church of one of our choir members; a close-to-home concert for which many (myself included) had family members in the congregation–and the trip, though draining (the switch to serving as a worship-leading choir that we made a few years ago seems to have sparked no small measure of spiritual resistance on these tours), was a wonderful time of bonding for the students and encouraging the saints. (For a brief vlog–a new vocabulary word for me–report from one of our freshmen, Micah Andersen, click here: Vlogsgiving 6-11, Choir Tour!)
The experience on tour, so full of encouraging moments, prompts the final exhortation in the BUILD acronym: Deliver daily a message of encouragement. The above already contains some great examples of this, so let me give just one additional practical application of this principle that I have found to be helpful in my quest to be an encouragement to others.
For years, I had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand, I enjoyed reconnecting with friends with whom I hadn’t communicated in ages. Particularly in my role as Director for the Center for Worship in the Performing Arts at Judson University, using Facebook and other social-media outlets has been very important for networking and Kingdom collaboration. On the other hand, I too often found that scrolling through my newsfeed provoked unhealthy responses. If I wasn’t envying the perceived-greener-grass posts of my friends, I was going back over my own posts, like some junior-high schoolgirl, to see who had (and who had not) liked them–rather a pathetic revelation when I finally slowed myself down long enough to apply some critical self-analysis to my social-media habits.
In time, I came upon a strategy that not only addressed my unhealthy FB usage but also dovetailed nicely with the goal to deliver a daily message of encouragement. Now, before I log on, when by God’s grace I’m on top of my spiritual game, I pray that God will bring to my attention those who need to be encouraged that day. I limit myself to 10 minutes online, so because I’ve collected over 1,000 friends over the years, I have to trust that God will direct my newsfeed to those who need a shot in the arm. I then try both to like certain posts and to write encouraging comments where appropriate. In particular, when a situation calls for prayer, rather than saying that I’ll pray for the person and/or situation (which usually means that maybe I actually will, if I remember), I pray right in the comment section. I don’t know that those on the receiving end of those prayers feel significantly more blessed by this gesture than by other comments or promises to pray, but I know I feel better about my role as an encourager because of this simple change in my FB behavior.
Thanks for reading these posts about encouragement and our horizontal worship of our Lord and Savior. Here is a recap of the BUILD acronym one last time. I pray God will continue to use His children to BUILD up each other in the faith!
- Believe universally the best about one another.
- Unlock regularly the fortress of your schedule.
- Invite occasionally someone who needs encouragement into your life.
- Look purposefully for creative ways to bless others.
- Deliver daily a message of encouragement.
The Lord be with you!