Have you taken children to an amusement part to ride the carousel? Do you remember watching and waving as they circled each time? You don't leave to get a Diet Coke or Snickers. You stay and wave to the kids each time they pass. We all are born with the innate need for encouragement.
My oldest grandson is playing his first year of tackle football. He is new to the team with many of the other boys being more experienced. He is working hard. He told his mom the other day that he didn't think the coach appreciated all of his hard work. His mom smiled and explained that coaches are appreciation-handicapped. Most coaches are attack dogs with a whistle. She explained to him that most coaches score very low on the appreciation index. As a family, we laughed at Drew's appreciation-deprived coach. In thinking of all of my coaches, the one I remember most is the one that told me he appreciated me and that I was good player. Whether it is sports, business, or church, I have discovered that appreciation and achievement are linked. Now let's get personal.
I was a preacher's kid. I grew up in a church parsonage. (By the way, the deacon who thought up parsonages might need to be interviewed by Jack Bauer.) I spent many hours at church and have been to thousands of services, revivals, and all-day singings. In all of those years, the most positive experience came when I was in high school. My senior year, my Dad told the deacons he could not attend every deacon and committee meeting that year. In those days, there were committee meetings just about every night. That could be another article because we have had thousands of Southern Baptists churches meeting nightly; which means we have had millions of meetings; which means there are a gazillion man-hours in which no one in Christendom even remembers what was accomplished.
Let's get back to my life — the reason my Dad was not going to all of the meetings was because he was going to my ballgames. Ironically, that was his last year at that church. I still remember glancing into the bleachers and seeing him there. I remember glancing over after a particularly good shot and seeing Dad clapping and cheering. What a good feeling it was to be appreciated by my family.
Last week, I went to see my grandsons play ball in Dallas. As we stood there and watched Grey and Cas glancing over to see if we were watching them play, we knew what a great memory this will be for us. As I write, this weekend we plan on flying to Colorado Springs to see our grandson, Drew, play football (the one with the attack-coach with a whistle). Drew knows I make my living on the weekends (for me "no show" is "no dough"), so giving up one just for him will be special to him. He is telling all of his friends that his Papa and Mimi are flying in to Colorado Springs just to see his game. I can't wait to go clap and cheer.
The February 5, 1996 issue of Newsweek told of a wonderful work of art created by Michelangelo, the great fifteenth-century artist. People had walked by it every day and hardly even looked at it, much less stopped to appreciate it. This statue had been sitting in Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a three-foot statue of Cupid in a courtyard that was right under everyone's noses. No one realized that it was the work of the great Michelangelo that had been missing for ninety years. Thousands of people walked by it every day, and no one recognized it for the wonderful piece of art that it is. Only recently, an art professor — who herself had walked by this statue of Cupid hundreds of times — suddenly realized what a treasure it was.
In the same way, many of us walk by three-foot masterpieces every day. These human masterpieces need encouragement. I have discovered that the greatest difference between a mess and a masterpiece is a little appreciation.
Let me tell you about a little boy named Jamie. Jamie was trying out for a part in his school play. His mother knew he had his heart set on winning a certain part, though she feared he would not be chosen. After the parts were announced, Jamie rushed up to his mom, with pride and excitement. He told her that he had won the part. He had been chosen to clap and cheer! Is there someone for whom you have been chosen to clap and cheer? Don't miss the opportunities even if they are three feet tall.
Now back to my side road (I am ADD, by the way). Rather than having so many committee meetings, why don't we just tell the people to clap and cheer? Our churches might just be filled with more masterpieces and less messes.