Our first "monthly" theme to encourage you in living and giving the Blessing - this month it's giving the Blessing to those in your community or small group!
If you're in a small group or community group - you're fortunate. Seriously. Clinical studies show that people in groups like yours live longer, get sick less, and actually have a more positive attitude towards life! Being alone hurts us at lots of levels. But unless you're physically unable do so - most of us CAN choose to get connected! And for those who are in a small group or community group through your church or a ministry or study you attend - it's not just positive physical benefits that come from being "connected" and in community with others.
The really good stuff is what God's word tells us gets added to the lives of those who are committed to walking together with others! Let's just look at one passage that encourages us to connect with others and how the Blessing helps us live out that verse!
Romans 12:9-10 in the Message version says, "Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle." Up to the "second fiddle" part, that's a great paraphrase. Loving well those walking through life with us should be "central" in what we do. But guess how that last part of verse 10 is literally translated? It's certainly true we should "play second fiddle" and think more often about the interests of others then our own. But that's not what is literally translated here.
Literally, it says, we're to "take delight in honoring each other."
Wow! From our heart (the center of our being) we're to get fired up about treating people with "honor!" Which means (literally) treating them like they're "heavyweights." People of great "weight" or value. And if you'll remember what it means to Bless in scripture - that word has two "word pictures" behind it.
One picture of what it means to Bless is, "To bow the knee" like we're standing before someone of great value. (Last month, in February, if our Blog would have launched, we'd have encouraged you to Bless your spouse - attaching high value to him or her. This month, it's looking at those we do life with, our good friends, treating them as people having great weight and honor).
And that second picture linked to the Blessing? "Adding a coin to a scale." Which is a picture of making someone "heavier" or giving them more value and weight.
And we do that by... Giving that person our Blessing... meaning...
We look for ways to add those 5 elements of the Blessing to his or her life.
With Appropriate Meaningful Touch... (like a handshake or hug or high five. If they're the kind of person who feels like their personal space is invaded if you get within three feet of them, guess where clinical studies show is the "safest" place to touch someone? On their elbow. Meaningful touch is BIBLICAL. ("And Jesus put them in His arms and Blessed them...). We're talking APPROPRIATE touch... but it's a part of Blessing others. As is...
SPOKEN words... (OK, you can write them an email or text them - but SAY IT! Put into words how much that friend or friends of yours means to you. Something like, "Let me be serious with you for 3 second. I just want you to know that it means a ton to me, you being a part of this group and a part of my life." SAY IT in your words and way, but put it in words)...
By ATTACHING high Value... (with our touch and words, letting them knowing a "specific trait or gift" you feel like God has given him or her. Something they do out of just being who they are, that makes them such a person of great weight and worth to you and to God. Like, "You know, I know you're a mechanic by day, but God has given you an incredible ability to listen and really hear and talk to people, and encourage them. One name Jesus is called is "Mighty Counselor." I think you reflect a lot like Him in that regard." Tell me hearing that wouldn't "bless" you, if someone pointed out something in YOUR life that encouraged them and reflected Jesus' love.) You do that by
Helping someone see that Jesus has a SPECIAL FUTURE for them... (Don't assume they're hearing words of Blessing in their life! Or that they're not concerned about their future. That person in your small group needs to HEAR that God has a plan for them that's great! You're "blessing" them with words that reflect Jeremiah 29:11!).
And backing up your Blessing is GENUINE COMMITMENT. (Which is you not just talking the talk - but walking the walk. Especially on those occasions when, like all of us, they're cranky or needy. It's you being committed to loving them in the tough times and the good times.)
Need a few more specifics on using those 5 elements of the Blessing to highly value that person(s) in your small group?
First, go to The Blessing Challenge at (www.theblessing.com). If you haven't already, that site will coach you on how to write out a Blessing for someone. Writing a Blessing is a great "first step" in giving someone your Blessing if this is something new to you.
Second - don't just read this blog about blessing someone in a small group - get in a small group of friends if you're not in one already! Here's how you can do that.
Talk to your spouse if you're married, or with your Christian roommate or ONE other good friend if you're single or a student. Then the two of you commit to reaching out and stating a small group. Talk to the pastor or lay leader at your church who does small groups, if they've someone on the church staff in that role. (And many churches do today. They may call them "living rooms" or "community groups" or "cell groups" or whatever - but I bet they're there!). That's someone who can give you some great suggestions on how to start.
If there's not an organized program of small groups at your church - DON'T POUT, SWITCH CHURCHES OR WAIT! Start your own group! Just commit, you and your spouse or friend, to calling a few folks you seem to connect with and like.
HERE'S WHAT YOU SAY. Just mention that you'll be having some really good food with some great people like them that they may or may not know, and that you'd like them to join in. And while you're all eating, you're going to talk about starting a small group to build friendships and hang out together and love the Lord together and laugh together and bless each other and bless each other's kids and serve some people in need as a small group sometimes and build up each other at all times... And then take another breath. And then mention the good food again.
Just listen. I'd think you'll be amazed at how many people say "yes" to joining that kind of group. Even really "busy" people like you - and EVERYONE is super busy these days. But they're not too busy to be Blessed by being in a group. YOUR GROUP.
You're inviting them to join a Blessing Bunch. (See the March blog on The Blessing Bunch if you haven't already). In particular, keep an eye out to invite at least one person that night who's new to your school, or your church, or your city, or new to Christ. Can you imagine when YOU were new? What if someone had invited you to hang with them in a group? To join with some people who were committed to really caring for and Blessing each other? How cool would that have been instead of just having to wing it like you did for so long!
One last thing. If you don't have a "topic" to study already on the tip of your mind for your new small group (or an existing small group) - then how about the Blessing? I know that sounds totally self-serving. But I UNASHAMEDLY believe with all my heart, that people in small groups NEED to know about and to give each other the Blessing. So whether you start with a study on the Blessing or not - I'd encourage you to work it in as you're learning and practicing how to walk well together.
That study I'm talking about is the new DVD series on the Blessing Dr. Tony Wheeler and I did with Focus on the Family. It's six sessions that look at YOUR life and heart, helping you to see whether you've received the Blessing, and how to give it to others. And it highlights the 5 elements of the biblical Blessing that are such GREAT tools for you in building a connected, caring, "center of your heart" small group.
Next month, we'll share ways you can BLESS your family and others by helping them see their unique, God-given STRENGTHS.
But this month, know how valuable it is for YOU, both physically and spiritually, to be in a community group or small group. And how much you can add to YOUR small group when you BRING them the Blessing.
Have two minutes? Here's how Session One of the Blessing DVD Series begins if you haven't seen it... Lord bless and keep you and those in your home!