An Encouraging Word — This year, give what you need

Fr. Ron Knott.RGBa.2012By Father J. Ronald Knott

He who waters will be watered. Proverbs 11:25

Like many of you, I have a New Year’s resolution. I have decided to double-down on a spiritual practice I began in earnest when I started writing this column more than 10 years ago — the spiritual practice of blessing people.

Nothing has brought more blessings into my life than the practice of looking for people to compliment and encourage and then expressing what I have seen in this column. The idea was simple — look for goodness to affirm rather than evil to condemn. Indeed, “He who waters will be watered!”

Jesus put it this way, “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)

Ever since I have adopted this spiritual practice in a serious way, I have also noticed in an ever sharper focused way how many people, consciously or unconsciously, engage in the mean and ultimately self-defeating practice of withholding compliments. There may be even more who stick their heads out a bit and then pull it back in giving praise, which may be even more cowardly. “The meanest, most contemptible kind of praise is that which first speak well of a man and then qualifies it with a “but,” according to Henry Ward Beecher.

Why is it so hard for some people to offer a direct, clear and unconditional compliment? Why does it seem like an “ascetical” practice that goes against our nature? I guess it goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. Cain became “resentful and crestfallen” because God looked with favor on his brother’s offering. This sin is alive and well even in clerical circles. Father Andrew Greeley once wrote (probably about the withholding he felt from his fellow priests in Chicago) that “the worst thing a diocesan priest can do is to get good at something.”

We have all heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Paul expands on this wisdom when he writes to the Galatians. “A person will reap only what he sows. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.” (6:7-10)

If we need to be loved, appreciated, noticed or honored, the best way to get it is to extend love, show appreciation, pay attention to and honor others.

Writing this column, looking for opportunities to bless others, has brought me more blessings than I could ever have imagined. Hardly a day goes by that I do not get a note, an e-mail, a call or a greeting of appreciation in public places by people I have never met. Writing this is, for me, a spiritual practice. By watering others, I have been watered. This year, give what you need.

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One reply on “An Encouraging Word — This year, give what you need”
  1. says: J. Alton Pike

    I have been reading this column since it began I think. It was at the age of 13 when I met Fr. Ron @ Camp Currie, Kentucky Lake. A very friendly guy then and now. Look forward to “An Encouraging Word” every week.

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