The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     I have a confession to make…I may be a borderline perfectionist. I say “borderline” because I know I have not, cannot, and will not achieve perfectionist status in many areas. Nonetheless, I have high expectations for myself and for others. The underlying focus for my high expectations is “always do your best.” Admittedly, the definition of “best” is somewhat fluid as one person’s “best” may fall short of another person’s “best.” When “bests” and expectations differ, frustration can arise between the parties involved.      Such was the case recently regarding some construction work being done at my house. A particular aspect of the project did not appear to be lining up properly and I felt like another approach might be a better. The contractor did not seem to want to explore my suggestion. He recognized that I was frustrated with him and he expressed his frustration with me by blurting out, “Just let me do what I do.” He said, “When you get home tonight, I think you’ll like what you see.”  When I returned home that evening, I still was not satisfied with the adjustments that had been made. I was pretty irritated and began loading up in order to unload on the contractor the next morning.
     [A little background may be in order at this point. My contractor has been working on a number of projects at my house since early October, 2019. Joe (not his real name) is a Christian and he strives to guide his team in a positive and uplifting manner. On several occasions I have listened to Joe share ongoing challenges with his family, his work, his employees and their families, his old and worn out trucks and other equipment, etc. As a small business owner, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for him personally and for his workers and their families. I really like Joe and his seven employees but I am getting a little tired of having them at my house six days a week until “dark-30.”]
     I did not sleep well that night as I felt that Joe needed to know that I was not altogether pleased with the work product and that he needed to put forth additional effort to measure up to my expectations (remember, I am a borderline perfectionist). My sweet, thoughtful, and diplomatic wife got up early the next day and left me this note, “We have no idea the struggles, fears, (and) anxieties of Joe and his team. They need to hear a word of encouragement today. Counting my blessings today and you are # 1. Hang in there. Proverbs 3:5-6.” As usual, she was right. Everyone needs encouragement.
     In the midst of everything that is transpiring in your own life (initial shelter-in-place mandates, concerns about job, health, family, school, etc.), please remember to count your blessings. Jot down a few of your blessings right now. Some of the challenges that you are facing currently, may actually be blessings. For instance, “shelter-in-place” likely provided opportunities for special family time for some of you that might never occur again. Or, perhaps you are catching up on some “honey do” projects for which you haven’t had time previously. Consider the blessing of technology that allows for communication and connectivity in ways that were not possible just a few years ago. Livestreamed worship services, meetings and Bible study via Zoom, and other platforms/methods for receiving information/staying connected are tremendous blessings. Remember the blessing of being a part of the church where you worship and serve and the associated opportunities to be a blessing to others through your church. Check on someone and let them know that you are available to assist them. They will be blessed from hearing from you. I know that many older folks miss gathering at church and with family.

     In the midst of our own struggles, fears, and anxieties, we can offer encouragement to others who likewise are confronted with a myriad of challenges. Do your best, be your best, and encourage others. From experience, I am confident that when you encourage someone else, you will be encouraged in return. The blessing you give will be yours to receive. Encouragement yields blessing!