Working definition of this leadership concept:
Blessing means affirming others’ value and performance. It is to build others up with our words. To bless is to speak kindly and generously even to those who have wronged us.
Benefits for leaders who bless:
1. Christians get to love. In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus says, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43–45 ESV) Jesus commands us to love our enemies, those who oppose us, those who disagree with us and His command comes with empowerment to obey through the Holy Spirit! Jesus has given us a way out of all the negativity and carnage. In Luke we read Jesus’ words: “27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”(Luke 6:27-28 ESV). Christians get to love. We can always bless.
2. I love to talk, and I do not think I’m the only leader who loves to talk. Blessing is employing our gift and love of talking to build others up. It is so energizing to come alongside the work God is doing in people’s lives and encourage them. It’s just so much fun to bless people. Important to note, as a leader, our words often carry more weight because of the authority connected to our role. As Christians we are to steward that authority to build up, not to tear down.
Benefits for the community where the leader leads:
1. Beginning a culture of blessing can be contagious – in a good way. People withdraw in a negative atmosphere, but thrive in a positive atmosphere.
2. Blessing when someone expects condemnation or criticism can not only change the atmosphere in a workplace or home, it can help people experience God’s love through us.
Biblical inspiration and support:
James cautions that words are powerful, like fire, and can be harmful (James 3:5-12). We should be careful and purposeful with our powerful words.
The Apostle Paul teaches:
“ Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV) Our words are not to be of poor quality or harmful. That gives me pause. Have I spoken any words today that could have caused harm to someone’s view of themselves, their life or God? We are to avoid bad talk and engage in that which builds others up. We are to encourage and bless with our words. What a wonder that our words can actually “give grace to those who hear.” Who could not use a bit more grace?
The Bible encourages us to bless and encourage one another; it’s a mutual obligation and experience (Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Blessing is crucial to the culture of the Christian communities.
In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus teaches us to bless those who curse us, Paul encourages us to “bless those who persecute you…” (Romans 12:14 ESV) and Peter directs us not to repay evil for evil but to bless (1 Peter 3:9-12).
Paul explains as a leader he has authority from the Lord, but it is to build up, not to tear down (2 Corinthians 10:8-9, 13:10). As leaders we are to steward our authority to encourage, bless, develop, correct and honor others, not to criticize in ways that would discourage them. If you question whether the words of leaders have greater weight than words of others, reflect on the effects both positive and negative words from your parents, teachers and other leaders have had in your life. We all can remember both encouraging and discouraging words that have impacted our lives, our decisions and even how we see ourselves. As leaders we need to recognize the influence of our words and use them to serve God’s purpose to build up people.
One season, I was tempted to compete with a teammate. I prayed about it and realized that I saw this person was ready for promotion. I decided to bless this teammate in any way I could instead of competing with them. I started praying for them to come into all the opportunities and gifts that God had for them. Once, I took them aside and told them that I saw them as gifted and called for the next role and that I was going to support them in any way that I could. I blessed them to their face, and I spoke well of them to others as I talked about them when they were not around. This created a strong connection with this person, whereas competition would have torn down our relationship and the entire team. I have personally felt blessed to be part of what God is doing in their life, so different from the jealousy I felt when I was competing with them.
A great place to start when we want to bless people is to pray for them.
If we really want to be counter cultural and embrace Jesus’ teachings, we can start by praying for our enemies, and praying blessing for those who mistreat us:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27–28 (ESV)
Prayer helps us to connect with God’s heart for the person we are praying for and makes us more likely to be able to bless them when we are with them.
Bless even when it is difficult.
Leaders bless. They bless not only in moments or with people that are easy to bless, they bless all the time. Let’s spend time praying and asking the Lord to bring things to mind that we can bless in our team or family. Let’s ask the Lord for eyes to notice things in the moment so we can affirm good attitudes, decisions and actions. Let’s cultivate a habit of both thinking and speaking blessing to those in our area of influence. Leaders bless.
Let’s take a minute and bring to mind a difficult conversation we’ve had recently. How could we have spoken words that would give grace to those who heard them (See Ephesians 4:29)? Is there any way we could do that even now, after the fact?
If we have spoken words we should not have, we can admit our fault and ask for forgiveness as discussed in the last article. Leaders are not perfect, they are people. Our apology could be a powerful way to take a step forward.
Remind ourselves that our words and actions are part of our living sacrifice, our worship. (Romans 12:1-2) We are not to use our words for selfish motives, but to serve God’s will and to bring Him honor and glory. A friend suggested the song, Lifesong, by Casting Crowns might be helpful in our time of reflection.
A parting word on blessing:
Blessing leaders use words to build others up!
What words of blessing have meant the most to you?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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