We have been working on ways to encourage the people in our family to stay focused rather than being bossy, which is coming from a position of superiority. I had looked up encouraging phrases on the internet which we reviewed with very little success. Then, of course, I prayed about it and asked God to give us a good example to follow. Last week, we finished reading 2 Timothy and the question of what book to study next was presented. I like getting input from the kids and two of them had suggestions. The next morning, as I was praying about which one to use, God told me to study Philemon for a day. As soon as I read it, I knew why:
"Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love."
This is a beautiful picture of how to encourage people rather than be bossy. Then I realized that I had some apologizing to do to my kids, because my example is NOT to appeal to them, but to use and abuse my God-given authority over them to get them to do what I want. What a change I have seen since, both in myself and in my kids.
On a side note, I heard an interesting statistic this week regarding new habits that reminds me of how much grace is needed when trying to change: It takes three YEARS before a new habit truly replaces the old habit and become an unconscious act. So if we work diligently to treat others with respect, it will probably take three years before we stop having to think so much about it.