No Encouragers in the Camp?


Everyone needs a little encouragement in life: a “You can do it!” cheer, or a “Way to go!” pat on the back. Dreamers, in particular, need to surround themselves with people who are willing to encourage them to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. But not everyone is an exhorter, and for a variety of reasons, there will be people in your life who will find it difficult to be in your corner when you’re struggling to accomplish something great, or to share in your victories once you do.

A general lack of encouragement can make the road to success lonely and harder to travel, but one of the hardest things to bear is the lack of support among your closest friends and even family members! If you have that support then you are indeed blessed. Unfortunately many who dare to dream big may find there are no encouragers in their camp!

Give us a cheer. No, no, not a raspberry!

We’ve been greatly blessed to have friends and family who believe in us and what we’re trying to accomplish. In fact, our closest loved ones are also our biggest fans; and it’s hard to imagine tackling our goals without their support and encouragement. But not everyone is as fortunate. In fact, the people closest to you are often the last to believe in you and your abilities, to rally behind you, or to praise your achievements. And believe it or not, even Jesus Christ experienced some of this familial disbelief and disinterest when He walked the earth.

Once, while Jesus was working hard to fulfill His great dream of reconciling our lost and wayward world back to God the Heavenly Father, “…The crowds began to gather again. Soon He and His disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When His family heard what was happening, they tried to take Him away. ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said.” (Mark 3:20-21 NLT) It’s easy to imagine that if Christ had allowed it, His family would have hurried Him home and done their best to convince Him to “give up this foolish dream!” Thank God — literally! — Jesus stayed the course all the way to the Cross and beyond.

When it concerns our friends and family members, it’s vitally important we understand the thoughts and motivations behind a general lack of encouragement, because…well…these are our loved ones, and their attitudes stem, innocently enough, from the most common traits of human nature. Yes, even your blood relations can harbor resentment from fear and jealousy: everyone has dreams, and it’s hard to watch someone else — sometimes even a family member — move forward when you seem to be stuck in neutral. No one wants to feel left behind.

But more often, friends and family lack conviction about our greatest goals and most daring dreams simply because they have trouble viewing us as the type of person able to accomplish great and daring things! No, they’re not necessarily diminishing our talents and abilities; but most people share a common misconception that extraordinary things can only be accomplished by extraordinary people, and few of us recognize our friends and family as being extraordinary!

The people we’ve known the longest are the ones with whom we’re most familiar: our dearest friends and family. And the “familiar” is never extra-ordinary — it’s what we’re used to; it’s ORDINARY. Jesus Christ was familiar to His family and the townspeople He grew up with. Hence, Jesus was viewed as commonplace, not the sort of  individual who writes history!

[When Jesus] returned to Nazareth, his hometown… He taught there in the synagogue, [and] everyone was amazed and said, “Where does He get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, His mother, and His brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All His sisters live right here among us. Where did He learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him. (Matthew 13:54-57 NLT)

The people closest to us are often the ones who see us as commonplace: we’re the familiar, the ordinary; but it’s often the most ordinary people who accomplish the most extraordinary things. For instance, as a young man, Thomas Edison was viewed by his instructors as VERY ordinary. They told his parents he’d never amount to much, but as an adult, Edison invented and patented hundreds of items, including the first viable lightbulb!

Feeling ordinary? Jesus said, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” (Mark 6:4 NLT) Just remember, you’re friends and family may not share in your dreams, but they still love you; and they usually don’t intend to rain on your parade. So pursue your dreams with confidence. Encourage yourself in theLord, as King David did, (1 Samuel 30:6) and accomplish EXTRAordinary things!

On the flip side, do you have a dreamer in the camp? Be an encouragement to that close friend or family member. They need your support!


Too Many Cooks? (Angel in the Kitchen)


Remember the old adage “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”? It describes a consequence of having “too many chiefs and not enough braves.” We frequently hear both of these idioms, and we generally agree that in this world there are way too many people who want to call all the shots. Now don’t get us wrong, leaders are a vital part of every company, community, organization, family, and faith congregation: they usually know what needs to be done and how to get it done — or who to delegate it to. At least, we hope they do. And in their capacity as leaders — and perhaps we should qualify our statement — as GOOD leaders, they fulfill the all important task of ensuring things are done correctly and with a minimum of chaos.

Without a designated leader to organize activities and coordinate duties, you’ll have two or three people trying to perform the same task, while another job gets completely neglected. We write designated because sometimes we need to appoint a person — one person — to lead, not because of their age, charisma or even experience, but simply to put an end to disorder. Obviously the best qualified people should lead, but what happens when you have two potential leaders with equal qualifications?

Getting back to the kitchen, two cooks, both waving a spoon like a baton, while preparing the same dish, can end up serving an unpalatable mess. Think about our opening phrase: two conscientious and well-meaning cooks micromanaging a broth simmering on the range is an invitation to disaster. Guaranteed, one of them has already sufficiently seasoned the bubbling mixture; and guaranteed, the other cook will inevitably add another pinch of salt, white pepper, garlic, or something it doesn’t need! The resultant broth will be too salty, too hot, or give the diners bad breath for weeks.

In the finest restaurants, there are several chefs on duty: a Head Chef, a Sous-Chef (second in command), a Pastry or Dessert Chef, as well as chefs specializing in fish, vegetables, sauces … and the list goes on. All these chefs are highly skilled. Many could no doubt lead if called upon. However, at any given time, only a single chef is planning the menu and coordinating the efforts of his or her staff. If you dine in one of these five-star restaurants, your meal will almost always arrive hot and without an unwarranted delay; and if you walk into the kitchen, you’ll see all the chefs working smoothly and efficiently with no misunderstandings, no confusion, no duplicated efforts, and no spoiled broth. (Which is for the best, considering these restaurant kitchens maintain an impressive assortment of knives.)

Wait just a doggone minute! Who’s in charge here?!?! Ruh roh!

Here’s another example: one commercial airliner, two capable pilots; both pilots have equal experience and capabilities, and both can fly the plane. But only one is designated as the pilot. The other member of the cockpit team is just as important, but has taken the position of co-pilot. This is a good thing. It ensures the passengers reach their destination.

As we stated, every company, community, organization, family, and faith congregation needs a designated “Head Chef” to ensure that whatever’s “cooking” turns out right and with a minimum of confusion. The head guy isn’t better or more valuable than the “Sous-Chef”; it’s just the best way to get things done. This is especially true in marriages, particularly in the area of finances. Show us a couple with equal jurisdiction over their budget and expenditures, and we’ll show you overdrawn accounts and needlessly missed payments.

Show us a committee where two people are trying to call the shots, and we’ll show you a decline in volunteers. The same goes for any “family” unit, be it a business, club, or faith community. But the point we’re trying to make is this: it’s okay to concentrate on what you do best, and then follow a good leader. Even Jesus Christ understood this, which is why He remained under the headship of God the Father, stating, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:28 NIV) It was the expedient way to accomplish His mission on earth.

True, someone has to be in charge, but it can’t always be you. Nor can we always have our own way in matters. So, maybe it’s time you got out of the kitchen (unless you ARE the head cook). Stop lifting the lids on all the pots. Stop tasting the broth every five minutes. And stop thinking that in every situation you need to put in your two cents worth of spices. Be content to be the co-pilot, or the Sous-Chef, or just part of a bigger team. That’s how things get done, quickly, smoothly and efficiently — without bruised egos and busted noses; without kitchen chaos and culinary conundrums.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…. Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 King James)