Summary: How to be an encourager. Filling others buckets.
In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, a little league baseball coach was accused of offering an 8-year-old money to intentional throw pitches at his own teammate, so he couldn’t play in a baseball game.
The 8 year old boy was supposed to bean an autistic teammate so he couldn’t play. In September, a jury convicted 29-year-old Mark R. Downs Jr. of corruption of minors and criminal solicitation to commit simple assault. Fortunately for the coach he evaded more serious charges.
The coach offered to pay one of his T-ball players $25 to hit a 9-year-old autistic teammate with a ball while warming up before a June playoff game.
The 8 year old pitcher testified that the coach offered him money and said he purposefully threw a ball that hit the autistic player in the groin, then threw another ball that hit him in the ear - - all on the coach’s instructions. The autistic boy also testified about being hit by the balls thrown during pregame warmups.
The coach denied he did this, but the jury did not believe him.
Can you imagine being the boy who had pitches intentionally thrown at him? What does that do to your sense of worth? How can an instance like this possibly impact you for the rest of your life?
Well, today and for the next 2 weeks we are going to be talking about community – – what it means to not only care for one another, but to care about one another; and to demonstrate that care and love in real and tangible ways. Earlier in the year I read a book called “How Full is Your Bucket?” This book speaks about the need for positive interactions. That we need to have our buckets filled; and when we fill someone else’s bucket by saying nice, complimentary, encouraging words, we help someone else feel good about themselves. But not only does that person feel good about themselves, we also feel good about what we have done, so we end up adding to our bucket.
Howard Hendricks is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary; and Hendricks taught one of my doctoral classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The class was about mentoring relationships and Hendricks told this story about a student in one of the preaching classes. He said this young man did virtually everything wrong that you could think of in his sermon. It was presented in a classroom setting before teachers and his peers. When the sermon was over the teacher would go over the sermon with the student and highlight the positive and what needs work. The teacher on this day outlined 28 things this young man did wrong. He did not say one positive thing to the student. How do you think the student felt? Would he ever want to preach a sermon again? Maybe this would even cause him to rethink his call to ministry.
Hendricks said when he led that class, if someone had a sermon which bombed, he would find at least 3 things to compliment them on. Then he would ask them, “if you are willing, I would like to help you build on some of the good things which you have already accomplished.” At this point, the student would be much more willing to get help, than possibly, turning the other way and walking away dejected.
The writer of Hebrews wrote ~ 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
What does all of this mean for me and you? What does this mean for us as the church?
Have you ever gone through a day and needed someone, really, just about anyone to say something nice to you, but nobody does? You feel like your bucket, your life, your heart, your soul is draining, it’s slowly slipping away.
And when your bucket is feeling REALLY low, isn’t it hard to add to someone else’s? Someone else does something really good, and to tell them “that was great!” is not always that easy. So, you see, when we don’t have our buckets filled, it is also difficult to fill someone else’s bucket.
You see this is all about how we treat one another. It’s about how we may send emails to one another that are not overly nice, or emails that have messages between the words. It’s the way we talk to one another, the way we hold our bodies which speak volumes about another person’s worth. It’s walking past someone and not even acknowledging their presence. It’s easy to be guilty of this type of behavior, but this is not a message about condemning . . . this is a message about loving. It’s simply a reminder of who we are called to be in Christ. And we will talk about that at length next week when we look at Philippians 2.