How do we set about encouraging each other so that it achieves what it should? Well, at the very least it should not be flattery - which is something different entirely. "Oh, that was simply marvellous, marvellous. I was saying to Gerald the other day, it was... well, simply marvellous!" Come on, let's be real here! (And, by the way, is it only me who is rather tired of everything being awesome in our churches at the moment?)
No doubt like yours, my early attempts at most things were patchy affairs. Wonky hem-lines on skirts, faltering piano performances in competition festivals, losing my place in the notes when giving a talk. I certainly wasn't "awesome" but, then again, I wasn't terrible either. I was learning; and I think it's ok to make mistakes and crash and burn a bit during that process. What helps is when people around you still believe in you when you do.
We're all having a go at being writers. None of us were born with that ability. It was something we sensed within us and which grew under various conditions and circumstances until we are at the stage we are today. I'm knocking on a bit to be doing all this for the first time, but I'm giving it my best shot; and I'm so grateful for those around me who cheer me on my way. Just last week, I submitted a blog for someone else's series. I offered it tentatively, prepared to accept that it might not be suitable or, indeed, any good. Within an hour, I had a response. The recipient had been in tears as she read it and she went on to say it was, "so, so good." Well, those three little words had my heart singing...
You see, we don't need to wax eloquent. We don't have to send flowers, or put down the red carpet; but we do need to be sincere. If we can somehow catch the intention of the person, we can ignore the falterings and stumblings and respond generously from our heart. I think that when Jesus will say one day, "Well done, good and faithful servant," He will mean every word.
Jane Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show of BBC Radio Norfolk, and on the Thought of the Day team at Premier Radio. She leads the ACW group Brecks, Fens and Pens and is Groups Coordinator for ACW.