Twenty-plus years ago, in my late twenties, I owned a substantial eBay business selling closeouts and returned goods from QVC and other sources. We had a warehouse in Ft. Worth, Texas, processing and shipping the merchandise. We had about fifteen employees that worked for us at the height of that business.

I was serving at the fastest-growing Baptist church in Texas at the time in youth/college ministry. We knew some seminary students who needed part-time work to fit irregular schedules. A couple of nights a week, I would stay late so that a handful of those guys could get some extra hours of pay.

The warehouse had more than a dozen offices, and our business only used three of them – the rest sat empty. One of the Latina students in our college ministry had a dad (we’ll call ‘Jose’) whose ministry focused specifically on Latino Baptist churches in Texas. We befriended the family and found out that Jose needed an office to organize his ministry. I offered one of our unoccupied spaces for free.

Turned out, having him around was always a blessing. There was forever a smile on his face and a word of encouragement on his lips. When he greeted you, he would say things like, “Hello handsome!” or “How’s the most intelligent person I know?” or “Wow, that’s a beautiful shirt you’re wearing!” – he always complimented everyone! He would bring his Vitamix to the office and make everyone smoothies. He was a great hugger, too. He would give hugging lessons (seriously, they were great) and talk about how humans needed to hug more for health. He loved to laugh. Super trustworthy and absolutely honest. I could go on.

One night while working late, he came into my office and sat down. He began to speak to me, but I proceeded to type on the computer without turning to acknowledge him – a super-negative habit I broke a long time ago. He said in a very calm voice, “Can you pause for just a moment and focus on me? I have something important to tell you.” I remember thinking, “I don’t have time for this!” but out of respect, I stopped and turned away from my PC to face him.

While looking me in the eye, he let a pause hang in the air for a few seconds. Then he said, “The way you are always ministering to people blesses me. You staying up here late so those kids can work really touches my heart. I just needed to say I’m so proud of who you are as a man. Thank you for all that you do!”

I crossed my arms on the desk, set my head down on top of them, and started to cry. I cried remembering while writing the story! It was the first time a man I respected told me he was proud of me. I realized that I had strived my entire life to hear that word from my father, who loathed my existence and hated himself. People can only love others to the degree to which they love themselves. I recognize now that my father had no ability to tell me he was proud of me. Nonetheless, the child in me needed to hear it. Jose was very cool about my crying too. God used him to heal me.

From that point forward, I went out of my way to tell any man possible that I was proud of him. When we don’t condemn, there’s always something to recognize in a Soul that’s praiseworthy. A few years later, I would serve as a men’s pastor at another church – my favorite men’s ministry of all. During that time, I led a lot of men’s retreats and conferences. At least ten times, when I told some man I was proud of him, he would break down just as I did at my desk in front of Jose.

If you’re in my environment today, I will search for a way to compliment you. At work, I refer to my team as “you beautiful people,” or “you highly talented and intelligent humans,” or “super-stars!” I do my best to let nothing come out of my mouth except what is helpful for building up the Souls of others. I practice being relentlessly kind.

Negative reinforcement (fear) is worthless. Love (agape) is the ONLY force that can change a person. If you desire to transform a person for the better, then praise them into being who you want them to be.

It’s critically important to continually project positive intentions in the relationships we wish to maintain! We all need to hear things like, “Good job!” or “excellent work!” or “what a wonderful meal!” or “thank you for washing my clothes!” or “I love your personality!” or “you’re a wonderful spouse!”

Can I agape someone without seeing something commendable in them? If I cannot find something meritorious in a person, the truth is I have no love for them. The eternal Soul is always admirable!

A lot of us need to hear, “I’m proud of you.” Your children need to hear it for sure as much as you can honestly point out their merit. For many folks, their spouse is long overdue to hear those words. Some of you are managers and leaders of people who’ve not spoken clearly about how grateful you are for your team’s work. The list goes on…

Tell people, “I’m proud of you!” Acknowledge the goodness in them with your voice. Just do it. Miracles will happen.

Blessings,

In Maharaj-ji,

JC

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John Clark

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