We had some friends round for tea last night, a couple we have recently got to know and are trying to build a deeper friendship with. Their a mature couple, who are almost retiring and have served in “christian ministry” most of their lives. They asked us a few questions about our coming to faith, and about personal stories. At one point in the evening the wife, of this couple, stopped me mid-sentence.
“You keep saying “really supportive” about a lot of your friends.”
When I get nervous, or have to speak in front of people, I often get stuck using frequent phrases like: “fantastic”, “okay-then”, “so” and “perfect”. Over the years since I’ve become aware of this I have really made an effort to try and stop it. There is a possibility that last night I was slightly nervous about hosting this couple, however I don’t think my returning to this phrase was accidental.
Over the years I have known, and been encouraged and built up by some “really supportive” people. I don’t think it would be fair to mention their names, but here some of the ways that I have experienced support from people:
- Financial – This has been in vastly different measures from money towards our wedding, to fare to pay for the train home from a meeting. It didn’t seem to be a “super spiritual” kind of support at the time. But this really did help open doors for great experiences.
- Prayerful – just read this post, to see how prayer has helped.
- Words of affirmation – if you’ve ever come across the book about Love Languages, you’ll know that this is one of them. And for me I really really appreciate this! When people are encouraging me with words, not flattery, but genuinely encouraging me I find that supportive. There have been a fair few who have given me encouragement about my gifts, my potential, my past performances etc, that have nurtured a confidence.
- Opportunities – as a young christian with crazy ideas, I was so grateful for leaders who took those ideas seriously enough to give me opportunities. Some let me preach at their church, lead worship, start my own young lads small group, one guy even let me use the building to host prayer meetings. What confidence that inspired in 16 year-old Paul!
- Time/hospitality – one missionary couple let me come round to their house twice a week, (for at least 2 hours a go!). I would ask them questions, listen to their stories and be so so inspired by their love for God. They were supposed to be back in England for a Sabbatical! Another guy committed to meeting with me one-on-one for my first two years at uni, teaching me what it meant to be a disciple!
Like a previous post, writing this list out not only makes me more grateful for all of the “really supportive” people who have invested in me. But it also makes me want to apply that to relationships I have now. I want to be generous; be praying for others; encouraging and building them up with my words; using my positions (limited though they are) to open doors and to invite people into my life. God help me!
Final thought: I got an e-mail from wordpress, recommending that I put pictures in my posts. As someone who isn’t very creative I usually type in the title of the post and pick something from what displays. However, I chose this one, because it is a support frame (get it, support) for a shelf. The thing is usually support frames (or whatever their technical name is) don’t get noticed, at least not in my mind. I think being a “really supportive” person is like this, your not trying to be noticed. Its about lifting someone else up…maybe the Holy Spirit is now using google to prompt me to grow.