How to Create Sharpening Moments
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
Every day is filled with sharpening moments. Chances to be encouraged and challenged by others. Chances to do the encouraging and challenging for others. Sometimes both are happening at once – mutual maximum sharpening.
This particular day, I was at my resource table after leading songs for worship including rousing congregation participation, energetic kids, and a sweet rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” when I was approached by a gentlemen named Mark with compliments to my voice. We chatted for a while. Mark attends church weekly, sings in the choir, and works downtown at a stressful job. His biggest obstacle was keeping a good attitude towards lazy co-workers who made more work for him.
When I mentioned these difficulties were a great way to share his faith, he said “Oh, I don’t really talk about my faith.” Curiously, I asked why not. He said he was shy, and that he lets his actions speak, and waits for others to notice.
Hmmm. Yes, actions are good; they often can speak louder than words and yes, others will notice. Yet, words are pretty important. In many cases, they’re essential and powerful. Things spoken last years in our memories, and echo long in our minds and ears. Often, words are necessary, and sometimes even more meaningful than actions. Finally, words are scriptural, and a means that God wants us to use. King David wrote in Psalms 145:3-7:
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends Your works to another; They tell of Your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty— and I will meditate on Your wonderful works. How could we commend, speak of, proclaim and sing of His works and acts? One of my favorite passages – which is kind of a life verse – is I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope you have; But do this with gentleness and respect.”
How often do we examine our reasons for NOT speaking when an opportunity is before us?? If we dig deep and look honestly, might we discover that fear lies at the heart of our silence?
Well, I reminded Mark that he’d been having a pretty good conversation with a virtual stranger for the past ten minutes. I followed up with some encouragement, ending with an action for him: “Try mentioning something faith related to someone at work this week. Maybe a small comment or question like: “How can I pray for you? God bless you; or Jesus is with you” to shine just a little more obviously – and see what happens?”
He was about to respond when a woman nearby suddenly entered the conversation by inserting “Mark is a great guy!” He replied, “Thanks, Irene.” then turned to me “I sing in the choir with Irene.” Ooooh, I see a sharpening opportunity! I let Irene in on the ‘action challenge,’ suggesting she try the same thing this week, then follow up with Mark about how it went at their next choir practice. They both smiled at their shared secret, and we circled up for prayer. It was a sweet moment indeed, emulating a tasty little verse in Proverbs 27: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Isn’t it a blessing to have the incredible resource of relationship within our church families! There, God brings us together with others who walk alongside us as we live out our faith daily. There, the Holy Spirit empowers us through His word and sacrament to be bold and courageous, stepping past our fears. There, we are spiritually fed, able to express worship and praise, and find a safe – and hopefully – receptive place to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness and spur each other on. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Moments are waiting. Get your words ready!WLI