Benjamin West was a famous British artist in the 1700s. He also served as the President of the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts. He was especially known for his paintings of historical scenes.
West first become aware of his artistic talents on a day when his mother had him babysit his younger sister, Sally. While his mother was gone, he discovered some bottles of colored ink and attempted to keep Sally amused by painting her portrait. In doing so, he made quite a mess. West expected to be reprimanded by his mother upon her return, but what she did instead was look beyond the mess, pick up the rather crude painting, smile, and say, “Why, it’s Sally!” From that point, West’s mother became his greatest source of encouragement in regards to his talent. He would often say, “My mother’s kiss made me an artist.”
We have no idea just how much influence we have over the lives of others. A well-timed word of praise can go a long way in building a person’s confidence, just as an ill-timed word of criticism can go a long way in destroying that confidence. The single greatest thing that my father ever said to me was, “I’ve seen all these ballplayers around here, and you can play with any of them.” To this day I remember how that one sentence made me feel. It made me feel like I was as good a ballplayer as anyone in our county. Maybe I wasn’t actually as good as the best players in our county, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I was.
Rev. Jay Orr was my pastor when I felt God’s call to the ministry, and I will always be indebted to Jay for helping me to yield to that call and fulfill my God-appointed role in life. In particular, there was one line from Jay that especially found a home in my heart. We were sitting in his car talking, and he looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Well, you’re preacher material.” The funny thing is that I’m sure that Jay had no idea the impact that statement had on me.
So, the purpose of this post is to get you to find someone and brag on them a little. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, and I definitely don’t want you to lie. But chances are that you’ll cross paths with someone very soon whom you can sincerely praise for something. Perhaps it will be your child. Perhaps it will be your spouse. Perhaps it will be someone who looks up to you. All I’m saying is, whoever it is (a budding artist, a young ballplayer, an aspiring preacher, etc.) you just never know the lifelong impact your word of praise might have.