|The ‘Clearasil Kid’ — discouraging words|
|Saturday, February 23, 2013 2:09 AM|
]I attended nine different schools in grades 1-12. My eighth-grade year was spent at Wahama High School which was a grades 7-12 school. It was a pretty good year for me. I was the leading scorer on the basketball team and won the Daughters of the American Revolution Citizenship’s Award but the thing I remember the most about that year was the hurt and humiliation of being called “The Clearasil Kid.”
Like many teenagers, I was having some problems with acne. Each morning I would get in front of the mirror and use tinted Clearasil to try to cover up and hopefully eliminate the blemishes on my face. Perhaps most of the kids always noticed it and were kind enough not to say anything but not so for one of my “critics.”
It was a nice spring day and a large group of us were outside during our lunch break. The bright sun felt so good on my face but apparently also revealed my poor attempt at hiding zits. “Here comes the Clearasil Kid!” yelled one of my classmates. My face started burning with embarrassment as the other students looked at me. I couldn’t think of anything to say in retaliation, so I turned and walked back into the school hoping that we would soon move again and I could get a fresh start somewhere else with a better complexion and a better nickname.
It may seem easier to run away from criticism and hurtful words or to “not get mad, just get even.” But I’ve discovered in my journey though life it takes courage to overcome our critics and the sting of discouraging words, gossip and slander. Remember the old western song “Home, home on the range where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day?”
Discouraging words and nonconstructive criticism can be very destructive. I am so blessed to be a pastor of a great church and know that we as pastors are supposed to be the spiritual leaders in our homes, churches and communities. We are the ones who through our actions and our encouraging people to “fight the good fight of faith,” demonstrate to others that with God’s help we can defeat the giants in our lives. However, the latest statistics reveal that over 1,700 ministers in the United States are quitting the ministry each month. The No. 1 reason? DISCOURAGEMENT. Sad to say the statistics also indicate that 50 percent of pastors report feeling so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could.
Discouraging words, complaints and criticism speak louder than compliments. You can receive 15 compliments and one complaint and the complaint will stick. When you hear criticism and look out to see empty pews or chairs, it can be difficult to recognize the positive impact you’re hopefully making. I’ve been pastoring for 22 years but I’ve been alive a lot longer than that and I know that we as human beings can become so discouraged and so hurt that we just want to give up.
The saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is simply not true. Our words can build others up or tear them down. I hope you are blessed to have people in your life who encourage you. I’ve been blessed to know people like that. In Acts 4:36 of the Bible we find that the apostles called Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement).
A few years ago, Bill and Pat Hardy became a part of our church family at Delphos First Assembly of God. Bill was a retired minister who understood the power of encouragement. He became my friend and was such an encourager to me that I nicknamed him “Barnabas Bill.” He had the gift of making the people he was around feel good about themselves by his positive words.
Last year, Bill gave me a plaque which I have hanging on the wall in my office. It has some wonderful words of encouragement engraved on it. Underneath the words of appreciation is engraved “Barnabas.” Bill died a few months later, but the encouraging words that he spoke and the encouraging letters he wrote continue to live on in the lives of the people he touched. Barnabas Bill “fought the good fight, he finished the race and he is enjoying his eternal reward.”
We all have a purpose in life and the opportunity to accomplish our God-given destiny. If we leave this life knowing that we have done our best to leave a legacy of love and encouragement we can know it was a life well lived.