When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,1 one of the most quoted orations of all time, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who comes into a situation that is stressful, angry, or disturbed and creates peace. This is hard and requires courage.
John sighed as he pushed his cart forward in the queue and glanced at his phone’s clock for the third time. 40 minutes already! How long can this take? A technical issue had developed in several of the supermarket’s tills, and the store’s customers were directed to queue in front of the only one that still worked. And I only have a few items, he thought, I don’t know if I can still make it to the appointment in time. The afternoon traffic will get worse—
There are two opposite attitudes in life. Some people’s motivational attitude inspires them to work harder and be better. They also have a knack for inspiring others to be the same. Not so the people that I’ll call “de-motivators”: they have the opposite effect. You may end up feeling inept and negative about yourself when around them, and perhaps their “lectures” and “helpful” advice intimidate rather than inspire.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all had someone say a few words of encouragement that radically changed our day or the course of events, just because of the extra inspiration and change of perspective those words brought. Maybe we were at the end of our rope, and someone’s encouragement opened a whole new horizon of possibilities. Or maybe we’d simply had a long and tiring day, and a few cheerful words renewed our inspiration and energy.
It’s human nature to form quick opinions based on the things we see and hear, without taking the time to dig deeper. “Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?”1 the apostle Paul cautioned the Christians in Corinth 2,000 years ago.
Jesus also had advice on the topic: “Stop judging by mere appearances,”2 He pleaded. But if we’re honest, most of us would probably admit to doing just that, at least some of the time. Here’s a passage that got me thinking about how I see others:
For years I monitored children during recess and playground activities. Between all the running, jumping, rowdiness, and good-natured play, someone would often end up getting run into, tripped, shoved, etc.
Often the child who had caused the accidents would immediately raise his or her hands and say, “It’s not my fault” or “I didn’t do it on purpose!” But of course, establishing guilt wasn’t the immediate priority. The most important issue is the welfare of the “injured” one.
Smiles are powerful. You’ve probably met a few gifted people, like I have, who radiate warmth and friendliness all the time. They smile so much that just being around them charges your spiritual battery. Babies are experts in this as well. Without saying a word, they lighten your day with their smiles.