As an educator (coach, teacher, principal) for the past 27 years, I have spent a lot of time giving instruction. For a good portion of that instruction, I have taken an approach that is methodical and western in presentation. “I teach, you listen…” It has only been in the last few years that I have changed my approach and lead more by way of a more student discovery-like method.
Unfortunately, for many years, I carried this approach into the Husband, Father, Friend parts of my life. Many times I could describe myself as a “fixer” or “advice-giver”. In my heart I have felt like I am being helpful. However, this method has bled into my ability to bless. When I was put in a situation to bless, I would give advice or a charge. Instead of speaking truth into someone about who he/she is, I would talk about what he/she would or should do.
I’ve observed in our culture that we are a race of “human doings” instead of “human beings”. Like me, I see so many gain worth from what they “do” rather than who they “are”. Think about it. What is a question you ask a new acquaintance once you have gotten past the “How about this weather…?” question? Usually, question #2 is, “What do you do…?” I believe this contributes to our over-stressed, workaholic society. We base our worth on what we do.
As I began to work on blessing more than fixing and becoming a human being instead of a human doing, my awareness became heightened to how others bless. At our school we have a couple of opportunities to speak publically into student’s lives. One is when senior football dads have a chance to say something to their sons in the last pep-rally of the season. Another is when a teacher gets to speak to each senior in their final Chapel assembly. During these, even though there are some great things spoken, I noticed how there was more advice giving than actual blessing. These adults gave great “My prayer for you…”, “My advice to you…”, “The challenge before you…” statements. There were even very applicable Bible passages spoken over these students. But, what I did not hear much of was “You are…”, “What I see in you is…”, “You possess…” statements. Now, please do not hear me blasting the process or the heartfelt effort by these adults. These are both sweet, beautiful times for these students. It just makes me aware of how far I have come and how far I have yet to go as far as blessing others.
The task at hand:
Based on the above observations, I tried something with my men’s group the other night. We started with the question, “What is it that you do that brings you the most worth or value in your life?” After their answers and a couple of follow up questions, I asked the next question, “If that was suddenly taken away from you, how would your life be different?” This became more difficult. Then I asked the final question, “What is true about, you at your core that would still give you the same worth and value?” You see, God gave us an inner goodness that we all can draw upon. To be able to bless others, we must be able to see in ourselves our God given goodness. The challenge to the group from this exercise was to go out bless three people over the course of the next few weeks (Bless). We are to speak to who they are and what they do or will do (Advice).
I have found that when I give true blessings…when I speak to who the person is, it has a deeper impact than just advice. I also find that when someone speaks to my character traits, my inner core of who I am, I am deeply blessed and strengthened by that core blessing. Over the next few days, try these two things:
- Notice where you fix or give advice rather than bless.
- Find three people and speak a blessing about who they are rather than what they do or will do.
I have found this webpage from Character First particularly helpful when looking for traits or core truths: Click Here Start with those closest to you. Start with family; your spouse; your children. As much as you need blessings; so do they. I believe the blessings we speak stay with a person for life.
Advice: Quit giving advice and bless.
Photo credit: Byron Myers