You Get What You Ask For

On a recent episode of our leadership podcast, Greg Heeres and I were discussing how easy it is for people to slip into a complaining attitude. One of the things I point out is that if we ask for compliments instead of complaints, we can begin to change the culture of our organization. 

Check out all of The Craig And Greg Show episodes on our YouTube channel.

Proper Correction

…to the church of the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:1). 

This short letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica is a masterpiece on how to correctly correct fellow Christian brothers and sisters. 

The entire letter follows this pattern: 3 Cs surrounded by prayer—

  1. Compliment
  2. Prayer
  3. Clarify
  4. Prayer
  5. Correct
  6. Prayer

(And then repeat, if necessary.) 

Compliment and encouragement—“We are bound to thank God always for you…because your faith grows exceedingly” (1:3). Paul complimented their love for each other, their patience and endurance in persecution, and their future glorification. He encouraged them that Jesus IS coming, and He will deal with their persecutors and take the righteous into glory with Him (1:3-10). 

Prayer—And then he prays for them to be equipped to endure to the end and finish well (1:11-12). 

Clarify misunderstandings—“Let no one deceive you by any means” (2:3). Paul reminds them of what he taught them about the end times and the Second Coming of Christ, clarifying that watchful Christians will by no means miss out on the signs (2:1-12). 

Prayer—Paul again praises their acceptance of the gospel and launches into another prayer for them to finish well (2:13-3:5). 

Correct errors of understanding—“But we command you” (3:6). There were those who were departing from the faith, growing slack in their work ethic, being disorderly, and meddling as busybodies. Paul said, “We command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ” that you knock it off! He even told the church to “not keep company” with such people (3:6-15). 

Prayer—Finally, Paul closes with a prayer for God’s peace to be with his brothers and sisters (3:16-18). 

This is such a masterful pattern for all of us in church ministry to follow! 

If you are in a leadership role, I hope your ongoing prayer would be the same as mine: “Holy Spirit, in all my interactions with my fellow saints, remind me of this godly, practical plan for confrontation, and help me to live it out for God’s glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.” 

10 Marriage Tips For Guys

Guys, here’s how to add heat to your marriage (regardless of its current temperature)—

  1. Let the Holy Spirit continue to develop His fruit in you—this is the only way to become a truly exceptional lover.
  2. Pray for your wife, and pray with your wife.
  3. Say “I love you” every day. 
  4. Learn her love language and speak it regularly. 
  5. Hold her hand. 
  6. Compliment her privately—not just for how she looks or what she does, but for who she is. 
  7. Praise her publicly in front of her friends, family, and coworkers.
  8. Find ways to assure her that she is your #1 priority. Every single day.
  9. Take her out on a date that you have planned. 
  10. Repeat steps 1-9.

“The most joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, trustworthy lovers are Spirit-empowered lovers.” —Craig T. Owens

Got any other ideas? Share them in the comments below so we can all benefit from them.

Look For What’s Right

Cedar Springs PostI wrote a letter to the editor of The Cedar Springs Post in advance of this upcoming election.

Dear Editor:

It’s a simple fact: You find what you’re looking for. If you are looking for bad news, you will find something to criticize; if you are looking for good news, you will find something to compliment.

In this election cycle, I hear and read far too many candidates that are looking for the things that are wrong. Electing those candidates perpetuates bad news. Is everything perfect in Cedar Springs? In Michigan? In the United States? Of course not. But there is a lot that is right. I’m much more interested in focusing on those things.

The way to move our city, our state, and our country forward is to support those candidates that are focused on our strengths—on what’s right in our communities—and electing them into positions where they can help our strengths overcome our weaknesses.

Send a message this election cycle: Vote for the candidates that are looking for what’s good and right and strong.

Sincerely,

Craig T. Owens, City of Cedar Springs

Gratitude Cancels Anxiety

Gratitude cancels anxietyThe wise King Solomon said, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down…” (Proverbs 12:25). And now medical science proves it.

There’s the physical weight of anxiety:

  • Digestion of food is hindered
  • Sleep is disrupted
  • Short-term memory is hampered
  • Immune system is depressed
  • Heart disease risks are elevated
  • Not to mention the emotional and relational weights of anxiety

But do you know what brings an almost immediate bounce-back from these conditions? Feeling and expressing gratitude.

The feelings of gratitude…

  • Release endorphins (the feel-good hormone)
  • Make good memories easier to recall
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Improve overall physical health

The verse I quoted earlier from Proverbs was only the first half of the verse. The full verse says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Science tells us that it doesn’t matter if those good words are words others say to us, or words we say to ourselves, or words we say to others. Our bodies cannot tell the difference, so any grateful/thankful/positive words cancel out the heaviness of anxiety!

Try it! Keep a gratitude journal … write a letter to someone you haven’t properly thanked for their investment in your life … make it a point to compliment others … speak more positively to yourself. Those grateful words are not only the antidote to the anxiety weighing you down now but also the inoculation against future anxiety. 

We’ll be looking at more benefits of gratitude next week, as we continue our series A Grateful Heart Is A Strong Heart. Please join me!

Nicest Of Compliments

On Sunday my amazing church took some time to expression their appreciation to me. It was very humbling and gratifying to hear how God has allowed me to invest into the lives of such wonderful people.

After the service I was munching on some cake and talking with some folks. I approached one lady in our church to ask about a situation in her life. It turns out that the situation I was asking about was one of those “tip of the iceberg” things. She then proceeded to unload all of the frustrations she’s been carrying around over the past couple of weeks.

It was nice hearing the kind words of my congregations, but this lady’s rant (that was her word for it) was one of the nicest compliments!

Why do I say this? Because she felt comfortable enough to lose the mask, drop the pose, and be real! 

Read the Psalms and you will see how many times the psalmists let loose in God’s presence. They tell God how difficult things have been, how many bad guys are out to get them, and how rotten they feel. They unload all of these raw emotions in His presence, and that is the first step toward receiving God’s healing.

In the New Testament, Christians are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens, but that’s awfully hard to do if we keep our burdens to ourselves.

Church should be the safest place for us to unload the burdens we are carrying! That’s why I felt like I received such an amazing compliment when this precious lady felt secure enough to share what was really going on.

I pray that you have a church or Christian friends with whom you can unload your over-taxing burdens. And I pray that you can be the church where others feel safe enough to trust you with their burdens.

Biodegradable Words

The day has been a good one so far: There’s been a lot of traffic through the store, all of the employees showed up for their shifts on time, and the manager is feeling great. Then because of one complaint from a finicky customer, the whole day seems to crumble.

The day has been a good one so far: You got up on time, found the right outfit to wear, got to school on time, smiled at your classmates, and got right down to business. Then a teacher points out a mistake you made yesterday, and your whole afternoon becomes gloomy.

Usually that’s all it takes. Just one complaint, one correction, one unkind word, one angry look, one unfriendly email. Just one, and it’s hard to remember any of the good stuff which happened earlier. Just one, and the rest of the day seems so hard to bear.

That’s because good words are biodegradable. Kind words break down faster than unkind words. Compliments are quickly erased by complaints.

“One of the commodities in life that most people can’t get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can’t find a hole in which to plug a little praise. But, compliments by their very nature are highly biodegradable and tend to dissolve in hours or days after we receive them—which is why we can always use another.” —Phyllis Theroux

Here’s how you can help today. It might take a couple of extra minutes, but the results are so worth it! Give three compliments today.

  • Tell the barista at your coffee shop how much you appreciate her smile every morning.
  • Mention to the building custodian how nice he keeps the office looking.
  • Say “thanks” to the band for playing one of your favorite songs.
  • Compliment your kids for doing their homework without you having to ask them.
  • Thank your school teacher for her informative lesson.
  • Tell your supervisor you appreciate their extra effort.

It’s not hard to find something to compliment about anyone. Your compliment may be just the antidote they need to counteract a complaint that has gotten them down. And when you treat others this way, you can be sure that compliments will be coming your way too!

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