How To Have a Meeting on the Power of Encouragement
Last night Debby and I hosted a meeting in our home with about 15 people on the topic of encouragement so I thought I would share a few thoughts about it especially the questions. The nice thing about organizing a meeting in your home and inviting people to it is that only the people who are truly interested in the topic will respond to the invitation. When you are invited in by an organization, there is usually a portion of the group who do not want to be there. They have a way of diverting energy aimed at transformation to their own agenda which is often some form of recognition.
Food seems to be an important ingredient to our meetings because most people love eating and socializing. It provides the warmth so that when the meeting starts people are already more trusting of each other.
In almost every meeting that I do I try to think of myself as a facilitator more than speaker. I consciously think about how much time I am going to be speaking in relation to others. Usually the less I speak the better the meeting is. However, I am always conscious of the fact that I am directing the process, and I always have an idea of the direction that I want it to take. I don’t want to have someone else stepping in and taking over.
So I started the meeting with these beautiful virtue cards that my daugher, Erika, made. There are about 50 of them with then names of lots of qualities like compassion and love and determination.
I asked the group to each choose the card that if someone acknowledged that quality in them that they would feel very encouraged. It was a really interesting process. Each person shared their choice and why. You could see from the choice and the explanation that they were already feeling encouraged by naming the virtue and talking about it.
The next part of the meeting dealt with how we get discouraged. I gave everyone a piece of paper and a pen and asked them to write down how and when they get really discouraged. Once again having a group that wants to be there and learn helps a lot because everyone in this group felt completely free to share. There are a lot of ways we get discouraged, but the one universal that we found last night with all of us was that all of our discouragement comes from outside of us. Criticism was a big one. It seems like when we get discouraged, it is based upon the action of someone else and then how we react to what they have done or said.
The final question was extremely powerful and the pattern of what works is very intriguing. The question is, How do you encourage yourself once you have become very discouraged?
The first two to answer last night were people who had been divorced. What they revealed was that when their marriages went bad that they really ended up feeling horrible about themselves. They turned in and became ill and distressed. What got them out of it was to be able to first step out of the bad feelings and look at what happened. The more detached they became the more they were able to see themselves with their positive qualities. They were also to able have a sense of forgiveness about their former spouses who had both left them.
Another woman’s husband had died 18 months ago, which left her completely numb and paralyzed for a long period. One day after a long period of withdrawal she decided that she had to start working. This was a very positive step, but then right in the meeting she began to cry while she was sharing the difficulty. When she finished crying, she said she felt a lot better because she had been holding so much in. This taught us the importance of sharing when we are going through trials. When you keep things in, it makes you sick. By expressing what is happening inside of you, it allows the problems to go outside for awhile so that you can see them and begin to make progress on them.
So the two things we found are the need for detachment and then to be able to see our positive qualities again.
The way we finished the meeting was to ask people to name the quality that they chosen at the beginning of the meeting and then to comment on it and have others see it in them and mention how they see it. It ended the meeting on a real high and then we had dessert.