I received an email this week from a student I taught a while back. She wanted me to know that she had been given an award for outstanding work from the college she is at and that the work she had produced had been inspired by a topic she had studied in my class while she was doing her A levels. She attached some samples of her work and I really did feel very proud of her- it is a funny thing but when a student achieves something you do feel a pride that is almost akin to seeing offspring succeed- perhaps because, though the achievement is wholly and rightly theirs, you feel you may have contributed to it even if only to some small extent. I was also very touched that this student had taken the time to thank me and let me know how she was doing. It came at just the right time as, despite a really excellent set of results both from our whole college and our individual department, it is still easy to feel a bit weary at this time of year at the thought of a lot of intense work ahead.
We often forget the power of praise or overlook the fact that there are people in our lives who might benefit enormously from encouragement.The bible says we build each other up through encouragement and it is true that praise can have the power to inspire us to go on and to continue to do as well or better than before. Positive feedback can help us to be the best we can be as well as to simply make us happy. Unfortunately sometimes those we could have the most positive impact upon through our kind words are often those whom we are most prepared to criticise or simply take for granted- such as our parents or our spouse. I am convinced we all have guilty moments on this score ( I know I do) and if we could just be more considerate we would all be happier! It is not always true either that Christians are any better at building each other up. I've heard plenty of criticism and carping in church, for example cliques or constant sniping at the vicar.
This week I was encouraged and it made me resolve to try to say something kind and positive to someone every day. Maybe we should all give it a try.