Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: An Encouraging Word Makes a Difference

An Encouraging Word Makes a Difference

It is difficult to estimate the extent to which a word of interest or encouragement can brighten and empower the lives of people we encounter every day. It costs so little and means so much that it would be a shame to withhold the words we can give to those whose lives these words would strengthen.

One day Verdi, the great musician and composer, came upon an organ grinder who was messy, dirty, and greasy. Even his monkey was dirty. Worst of all, he was playing the tune on his instrument too slowly. Verdi tapped the man on the shoulder as he walked past him and said, "Pick it up; pick it up". Three weeks later Verdi came upon this very same fellow again, and to his surprise the man was clean, neat and well-dressed. Even his monkey was neat and clean now. But, best of all, he was playing the tune in perfect time. Verdi walked past the man and turned to congratulate him on his tremendous improvement of appearance and style and, to his utter surprise, saw a band on the organ-grinder's hat which read: "Master Musician, Student of Verdi".

A word of encouragement or guidance from someone whose judgement we value can revolutionize our lives. When we feel that nobody cares how we look or work, then we begin to lose our sense of pride. Sometime just a word, spoken in the right tone, can restore our pride and bring out the best in us.

There are few, if any, of us who have not been discouraged and depressed over circumstances over which we had little or no control. We have watched late into the night with some loved one who was dying and we have felt the frustration of helplessness. We have watched the questioning face of a child in pain when we could find no words to comfort or explain. We have watched the savings of a lifetime disappear. We have felt the sense of shame and embarrassment over losing our job. We have experienced the pain of divorce as we lost the love of someone to whom our lives had been knitted by children and years. We have watched our children, around whose lives we have built our lives, leave us. We have been rejected by persons we loved, but who did not love us back. We have been excluded from groups to which we wanted to belong, and shunned by people whose companionship we craved. We have hurt late into the night for no specific reason, that we could identify, but simply because somewhere along the way our reason for living fell through a crack in the bottom of life. Have I left you out of this list? If so, let me know.

People who are hurting need more than idle encouragement of the unaffected.

It costs the giver so little and means so much to the receiver that we should be generous with our words of interest and encouragement. Look around you today for some person who seems to be down. Give them an encouraging word. It will enrich both of you.