Audience appreciation and speech appreciation are what speakers and listeners must consider when they are in a speech context. My teachers drilled this into me in school and I drilled this into my students. Speakers must appreciate their audience and tailor their speech to fit that audience. Listeners, on the other hand, should seek to find something they appreciate about the speaker’s message, even when the speaker didn’t tailor the speech to fit the audience. This is training listeners to be objective, to examine more than one aspect of the speech presentation, to sometimes just look for the one good in a bad speech.
Recently I thought about my training as the Lord has challenged me not to dwell on the negative but instead focus on the positive: “… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8-KJV).
After making sure I knew what each of these words meant in the original biblical language, I literally listed aspects in my life that fit under each of these areas. I frequently read these to help me stay positive if I find myself prone to dwelling on circumstances that will make me blue. Some of the points I dwell on are the good that came out of a very challenging change in my life.
I had been in deep fellowship with a sister and over some time we had become close. We shared family struggles, ministry challenges, hopes and fears. We encouraged and rebuked each other, prayed for one another, studied the Bible together and couldn’t wait until the next time we talked. We had begun to work together on some ministry projects. One day we had a disagreement based on something I initially said. She decided we could not go on with a ministry assignment, and I was crushed. We had become extremely close. I wondered how she could misunderstand what I had said. How could she not understand my heart? I accepted the change in our ministry relationship and ultimately our friendship. Was it hard for me to move on? Certainly it was, but what has kept me moving forward is remembering God’s word and dwelling on the fullness of it:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose” (Romans 8:28-KJV).
This classic verse isn’t one that we should just quote to soothe others or ourselves right after a deep conflict but one that we should fully embrace for its amazing restorative powers. This verse speaks to God’s will for our lives, what He has allowed or what He initiated. If His Holy Spirit didn’t direct us away from a conflict knowing the tough outcome awaiting us, God had a plan for us as a result of that conflict. Remember, God is good so whatever we face will ultimately lead to good for us. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he says “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” When we, who are the ones called to fulfill God’s Kingdom on earth, love God He promises we will bring forth fruit (John 15:7-10, 16). So when bad happens in our life—in my case the change of a friendship and ministry assignment—we must continue to love God by loving others, even those who hurt us, thus allowing God’s word to abide in us. We can love the one who hurt us by seeing how the tough situation might work for our good. I was able to see how I had allowed my friendship to become an idol in my life. Now with the shift in my relationship, I focus more on God and less on the blessings that He gives me. Had she remained in my life then, I would have looked to her more for direction than I would have to God. I would not have seen that I was heading down a path of depending on man more than depending on God. I now know that God prompted me to write the email the way I did because He knew what her reaction would be; He knew that our relationship wouldn’t change apart from an act of God. Though our split split my heart, I was able to examine her message and appreciate how it was from God and for my good.
Your situation may be one where someone was just pure evil toward you and we know that didn’t come from God, but the scripture doesn’t lie. Whatever your situation of use or abuse, it will work with other circumstances in your life for your good. Once we see how the tough interaction can work for our good, we can know the person who hurt us may not remain in our lives but the interaction will help us grow in an area for the glory of God. And knowing this can help us treat that person with the love of God.
Take a Risk Challenge: Examine how you have benefited from someone who has hurt you. Show them radical love by sending them a note, calling or visiting them. If interacting with them is dangerous for you, show them radical love by praying for them. Those who have done the most egregious acts are in desperate need of a healed soul and God’s love would have you to even pray for them.
My One Thousand Gifts List
Flynn playing tennis consecutive days
Not being stressed out caring for the boys solo
Tabitha and Tanina coming to assist me with housework and the boys
Joshua saying, “Mom, I love you” unsolicited
Joshua asking me to sleep with him “just because”
A yearning to spend time with God despite my being sleepy
Making three types of lasagna and they all turned out good
A rich conversation with Carla where we rejoiced about God’s prophecy manifesting and His opening ministry doors for her
Nichole and Asha visiting and having dinner
Justus purring when I hold him