Acknowledgment Power

July 3, 2023

By Maria Fontaine

Audio length: 11:12
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The Lord can open the door for us to be a blessing to others by acknowledging their good qualities and encouraging them for their faithful endeavors in their current circumstances.

Jay, a man like Jesus

Some time ago, the Lord opened the door for me to witness to a young man, Jay, by beginning with pointing out some admirable qualities that he possessed. Though I had only met him once or twice before when he had done some repair work for us, I had heard numerous others comment about what a sweet and kind person he is, how honest and sincere, and how he is always ready to go out of his way to be a help to others.

In this instance, the Lord showed me to use the positive things I’d heard as a way to start a conversation with him. He had come by to fix a problem we were having with the plumbing. We had a few minutes to chat, in which I recounted some of the compliments that I’d heard about him.

I told him, “Jay, you remind me of Jesus. Do you know why I say that?” Seeming to like the idea, he smiled broadly and said, “No, I don’t.” I explained that Jesus was faithful to minister to people’s needs. No matter what they needed, He humbly went about doing good and being considerate and compassionate and loving.

I went on to say: “Jesus gives us different gifts, special abilities that if we choose to, we can develop into something wonderful that can help change the lives of others. Sometimes they’re physical gifts like a special talent or skill or the ability to learn certain things more easily. Sometimes, they are spiritual gifts like healing the sick, or a deep understanding of the hearts of others. Whatever He gives us, the purpose of these gifts is always to manifest His love for others in some way.

“That’s why you remind me of Jesus. I think that He has given you a special gift. In the Bible it’s called ‘the gift of helps.’ It might just seem automatic to you when you see a need or someone struggling to want to help them. Maybe to you it’s just normal to respond this way, but it’s something that other people realize is special. Caring about others and putting that into action to help them can be a lot of hard work. At times, you might feel almost like a servant, but you know what? Being a servant is not a bad thing. In the Bible, Jesus says, ‘He that would be greatest among you must be a servant of all’ (Matthew 23:11).

“Jesus’ whole life was spent serving others, ministering to their needs, and sacrificing to show them that He loved them. I think you’re in very good company, being gifted in this way. What better gift could we have than one that allows us to reflect Jesus’ nature! It doesn’t always look glorious in this life, but then, in this world, looks can be deceiving. Many of the most important jobs are not the ones that look glorious outwardly. Rather, they are ones that change hearts and lives, because those doing them are willing to do whatever it takes to help someone who needs them.”

Angelo, the angel in electronics

I believe that this approach of looking for the good qualities or gifts that someone has been given can help them to recognize that they have value to God. When we can point out some specific qualities and gifts that we see in someone, it amplifies the point that these gifts have a Giver who wants to provide, both for them, and through them, for others.

It can also stir their hearts to desire to do more with what they have been given. It can create in them a hunger to discover what else God has provided for them as tools to fulfill their callings and develop a stronger personal connection with Him.

I want to tell you a few more experiences I had along these same lines.

Shopping is something I rarely do and with difficulty, because it bothers my eyes. However, one day when I already had to be out for a medical appointment, I stopped by a department store to try to find an item I needed. The first department by the entrance was electronics, and behind a counter stood a young man who was trying to look busy, because at that moment he had no customers. As I walked by, he beamed his most cheerful smile, so I stopped to ask him where in the store I could find the item that I needed. He came out from behind the counter and said to wait and he’d be right back. After several minutes he came back with just the thing I had asked for.

He could easily have pointed in a general direction or told me which department to look in, but instead he went out of his way to search and find the item I needed! I commended him for having such a wonderful gift for helping others. He’d been so cheerful about making the extra effort, so I asked about something else I’d hoped to find, and he immediately led the way to the department where I could find it, adding that if I needed anything else, I knew where to find him, and to not hesitate to ask.

As we returned to the front of the store a little while later, I noticed that he was available once again, and I decided to talk further with him, wanting to mention something about Jesus. I told him that he seemed like a very sweet and conscientious, diligent, and hardworking young man. It turned out that his name is Angelo. When I asked about his family, he explained that he was unmarried, as he wasn’t earning enough to support a wife, much less children. When I mentioned how difficult it must be, he responded that he tried to do what he could to help others who have even less than he has.

Angelo seemed to have such a heart for others that I could barely tear myself away. As we spoke, I was looking to Jesus to show me a key to his heart or something I could say that would help him significantly. The Lord showed me to make a positive connection between his name and his character. I said: “You know, Angelo, I think the Lord gave you a name that suits you well. Angels are messengers of God’s love. Your kindness helps communicate what He wants people to understand about Him.” He seemed very touched by this.

As I left, I paused and gave him a tract, saying: “This little message from Jesus will help you to see how greatly He loves you. He wants you to know that He’s always right there for you. As you receive Him into your heart, He’ll always be there and never leave you.”

He was so touched by this that he seemed on the verge of tears. I told him that his sweetness and kindness and helpfulness was very important to his customers in making them happy and comfortable and that he was doing them a real service. But even more important, he was being an example of how much Jesus loved them. I wanted to let him know that Jesus is proud of him. Who knows? Maybe he has been searching all this time and just needed to have some confirmation about Jesus and His great love.

Mary, the care-giver amongst the shoes

Another experience along these lines happened when I had to venture out on a search for some much-needed shoes. Shoe shopping is one of the most challenging things for me as I have “difficult feet.” I need a shoe that is very narrow in the heel and much wider across the toes, which is a rare find. So, when I am desperate enough to make the trip out, I can be tempted to just rush in, get it over with, and go home.

The young woman in the shop, Mary, was very sweet and went to a lot of trouble to tune in to what I was looking for. Of course, she wanted to sell her shoes, but her helpfulness extended beyond that, and she put a lot of effort into bringing me one pair of shoes after another, and thinking about it, saying things like, “I have an idea. Maybe this will work!” She was right there with me the whole time, only leaving momentarily to attend to another customer and remaining positive and patient and so cheerful even when the search for the right shoes dragged on for a while.

She persevered and finally managed to find the right pair, and I could see the sense of satisfaction that radiated from her face. As we were about to go, I told her: “Mary, you have been a very big help to me today. It took a lot of your time and effort to go out of your way to do your best. Maybe this job of selling shoes is just temporary for you, or perhaps you are planning to continue this for some time, but can I point out something I’ve noticed about you?

“I see that you care about each customer and their comfort and happiness. I see that you put your heart into whatever you are doing. You make an effort to encourage others, like you did for me. When some people come into your store, they may be a little discouraged, like I was, thinking that I wasn’t going to find anything, and you did everything you could to help me. I’m very thankful that we were able to find shoes that fit me so well. You know, Mary, making people happy, encouraging them, and boosting their spirits is not a small thing. Your beautiful smile, your gorgeous eyes, your attentiveness to what is important to others are gifts that God has given you, and you seem to use them well.

“Selling shoes is pretty important. People have to have shoes, if only to keep their feet warm and protected. But even more important to them than that is the personal attention you pay to them. It’s good to keep on cultivating that, reminding yourself that making people happy is one of the most important things you can do in this life.”

She almost cried as I said this to her and then gave her a tip, telling her that this was a token of my appreciation. I added, “Mary, Jesus loves you very much, and He wants to encourage you today that your life is important and what you do is important.” She turned away quickly, shedding a few tears and smiling with embarrassment.

I felt so happy, because I realized that I had prayed before I left home and the Lord had helped me to practice what I preach, not just rushing from point A to point B, but keeping in mind that there are precious people all around who need attention. I was doing something that was much more important than merely finding a needed pair of shoes!

You just never know how much those words of acknowledgment, support, or encouragement will motivate a person to excel in this life. Those “days of small things,” those beginnings in the life of someone who the Lord has led you to, can be just the start of something great in God’s eyes. That’s how He sees it!

Originally published July 2020. Adapted and republished July 2023. Read by Carol Andrews.

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