A Ministry of Encouragement

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Have you ever noticed that men and women differ in their use of humor? Men’s humor is more competitive, and therefore more sarcastic. Women’s humor is more supportive. For example, famed comedian George Burns, remembered especially for the television show he hosted along with his wife, Gracie Allen, was roasted by some of his friends. Here are some of the things they had to say.

Milton Berle: “I have to say this about George. He looks just the same today as he looked forty years ago – old.” 

Red Buttons: “George Burns, what a man. He read in the paper that it takes ten dollars a year to support a kid in India…so he sent his kids there.”

Bob Newhart: “The way George Burns sings, even E. F. Hutton doesn’t listen.”

I can’t even imagine women roasting one another like that, at least in public. Can you imagine a woman emcee saying about another woman, “She looks just the same today as she looked forty years ago – old”? Men tend to be more competitive in their communication and women tend to be more relational. Women are more apt to encourage one another. One woman will meet another and will say, “How nice you look! What a beautiful dress. I believe you’ve had your hair cut. It looks so good!”

Can you imagine two men greeting each other that way? “Mike, how handsome you look today. That suit really makes you look handsome.” It just doesn’t happen. And what a shame.

We all need encouragement. A man was talking about his grandson, a two-year-old with Down syndrome.  He said, “Our grandson has difficulty understanding the word ‘No.‘  However, I’ve noticed that if you applaud him for anything, he’s apt to do it again. I’m learning to say know ‘no’ less often and to say, ‘Good job!’ a lot more.”

Even our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, needed tangible encouragement to spur his sometimes sagging confidence. When Lincoln was tragically killed, several items were found in his pockets: an embroidered handkerchief, a watch, and some confederate money. But most interesting of all was a ragged copy of a newspaper article. The article had been written during a time of great controversy and turmoil in the country. In the text of the article, the writer extolled Lincoln’s virtues, approving of the decisions he had made in office. Lincoln was not that different from the rest of us.

The world has enough critics. We need more encouragers.

I believe that is one reason God gives us grandparents.  Experts tell us that for every criticism a child hears, he or she needs to hear 10 “‘attaboys” or “attagirls.” But parents are human. It’s helpful in such situations to have another family member who will be present with unconditional love…

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