You can be a homebuilder, bodybuilder, reputation builder, or a retirement-nest-egg builder. None of those things will last, but there is something that’s going to last for eternity, something you can put your efforts into now that will last forever.
You can be a people builder.
The Bible encourages us to do just that in Romans 15:2, where it says, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (NIV).
How do you build your people? The key is kindness – giving people what they need, not what they deserve.
If you consider the way Jesus built people up, he did four things, and you can do these same four things as you encourage members of your congregation.
1. Give them a personal challenge.
Ephesians 4:1 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (NIV).
Paul is saying, don’t waste your life – make it count. Be all that God made you to be.
Challenge your members to live beyond themselves and to discover their strengths and abilities. God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.
You can play a critical role in the lives of your members by helping them discover their strengths and abilities, and then challenging them to use them.
2. Give them complete confidence.
Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith” (GNT).
We all need confidence. When you know that someone believes in you, it brings out your best.
Jesus did this with Peter. Peter’s name – “Petros” – meant pebble. But Jesus said, “Pebble, you’re going to be a rock. I’m giving you a new name.”
When Jesus said that to Peter, the apostle was anything but a rock. He was Mr. Impulsive, Mr. Foot-in-Mouth. But Jesus didn’t tell him what he was – He told him what he could be. He gave him confidence to live up to his potential.
When you give encouragement, it needs to be genuine. So, give from the heart and with sincerity. Encouragement also needs to be regular – don’t be stingy with your encouragement.
And encouragement needs to be specific. Don’t say, “I enjoyed the meal.” Rather say, “I can tell you put a lot of effort into this meal and the seasoning you chose was perfect.”
Don’t say, “You did a good job.” Rather say, “I noticed you handled that angry member with tact and you maintained your cool under pressure.”
3. Give them honest counsel.
Proverbs 27:6a says, “Friend mean well, even when they hurts you” (GNT).
Real friends will care enough to confront. Even when it’s painful, they’ll tell you the truth. They won’t let you waste your life in silence.
I have found that correction is powerful – and it can be dangerous. Done the right way, it builds people up, but done the wrong way, it can scar a person for life.
The difference between the right and the wrong way to correct is your attitude. If all you’re doing is pointing out faults, then stop.
The purpose has to be to correct, not to condemn. You need to ask, “What’s my motive in this? Am I correcting them for my benefit or for their benefit?”
A lot of times we want to correct people just because they’re being jerks and they’re hassling us. We think, “If they would stop being such a jerk, my life would be easier.” That’s the wrong motive.
Follow Ephesians 4:15, which says, “Speak the truth in love.” Love means giving people what they need rather than what they deserve. So affirm the person; correct the behavior.
4. Give them full credit.
I used to have a sign in my office: “God can do great things through the person who doesn’t care who gets the credit.”
How quickly do you share the credit? It’s human nature to want to share the blame while keeping the credit. But God says the mark of maturity is to accept the blame and share the credit.
Being a people builder requires unselfishness.
I want to give you an objective, and that is to be a people builder for the rest of your life. Begin by writing down the name of one person you want to help build up, then stop and pray. Ask God to show you that person’s strengths. We always build on our strengths, not on our weaknesses.
Imagine the impact you could have if you would commit yourself to being a people-builder; if you determined to bring out the best in everyone within your congregation. That’s one of the purposes of the church: to help people grow and to become what God made them to be.