Sometimes as I sweep up the floors of our house, or sweep the tiled outdoor area that surrounds our house, I get frustrated.
“Frustrated from sweeping? Huh?!” It is true.
As a missionary living in Thailand I have learned to watch how the local Thai people do things, and this is what I learned about sweeping: It is almost like a dance.
Ah, like a dance. . .I used to be a ballet dancer, now that is a language I understand!
So, as I watched the Thai’s sweep with the short handled brooms, I noticed that they held the broom lightly in their hand as they took a step and gently with a fluid motion brought the broom forward. The dust was encouraged forward as it softly wafted into the air and settled to the ground in a location in front of the brooms arc. The dirt just seemed to obey the gentle prodding of the broom, and continued to move along.
Never have I seen a Thai using a Thai broom in a harsh or rough manner. Which I can tell you, from experience, is a good thing – because it does not work. Lol! I have tried to wield my short broom in short, staccato type motions to hurry my sweeping along, all to no avail as the dust basically refuses to obey.
So, I have figured out that I can fight the dirt and dust by trying to make it comply to my way of sweeping, (pushing, brushing fast, with the bristles pressing and scraping against the floor), or I can sweep in a light, encouraging, arcing dance like motion and finish my sweeping without frustration.
Fortunately, I have chosen the wise way of working with the broom the way it works best, and I have found my level of frustration with sweeping completely diminished.
When I think about how the Lord works through the Holy Spirit with me, I see that He gently encourages me and gently admonishes me if I need it. I am so grateful that the Lord teaches with love and encouragement. The Lord does not usually use the “2 x 4 method” (hitting me on the head with a piece of wood) unless I am stubborn, like a sticky spot on the floor that a gentle sweeping motion just won’t get.
As we work with youth of varying ages at the Youth Center, we nearly always find that encouragement, and a gentle word works best in teaching them. They are always more inclined to obey and to act in-kind to each other. So rather than forcing lessons or speaking unkind words, we use the balm of gentleness and encouragement to help them grow into the young people that God wants them to be. (I actually find this approach works with people of all ages.)
Most people thrive when taught and helped with soft, encouraging words and actions.
I pray that each of us would speak wise words that uplift and encourage, not words that injure and teardown.
Proverbs 31:26 – “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
John 14:26 – “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Psalm 143:10 – “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”