Look For and Encourage the Good
Sometimes it’s easy to get frustrated by the inconveniences and glitches of life. We all hate being caught in road construction or having to take an unplanned detour. Car repairs always seem to take longer than they should. On more than one occasion, a meal from a restaurant’s kitchen has made me question the management level of the establishment.
As a church we are not immune to this. It’s easy to become frustrated when a mistake is seen in a bulletin, an illness or loved one is not mentioned in a prayer, the air is too hot or too cold in the sanctuary, an assisted listening device doesn’t work, or a speaker makes a weird sound. We’ve all thought it, some have said something about it, and sometimes, it seems as if some make a hobby out of looking for the “things wrong with this picture.”
Let me stop for a moment and make sure it is understood that I call myself out for this behavior first and foremost. This is not a guilt trip, a sermon, or a finger that is pointed in anyone’s direction. It is more of a tribute to those behind the scenes who care and have cared for you by doing things that are only noticed when something goes wrong.
Paul Beatty was a good friend. He had a servant’s heart, and he used that heart, and his hands, for Kingdom work. Paul was a mechanical engineer – he made sure things were done well through design, efficiency, and the implementation of knowledge to a particular circumstance.
Paul was a deacon – a servant of the church. Through working on the facilities committee, he impacted almost every corner of our campus. He met with EPB to lower our electricity costs by controlling peak consumption. He made our old AC controls run in such a way that the building was cooled without going into peak consumption. Many a Sunday, he rigged air conditioners to work until a repair person could come and fix the problem. Paul worked hard to make sure everyone could hear God’s Word and participate fully in worship. He spent a lot of time tweaking the system and fine tuning it on Saturdays and evenings. Paul even served on two search committees for a new senior pastor.
Paul checked up on me regularly. We had regular breakfasts where we would talk about our families. He loved his family so much and prayed regularly for them. We would talk about politics. We didn’t always agree, but we listened to one another. Paul was always someone who would listen and consider but wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he considered as right. We talked about sound system things – he also helped with sound for the Ringgold band. In all these talks, he showed a servant’s heart.
Paul was a very important part of this congregation, but he served in the shadows. By making sure that things ran smoothly, Paul made himself visible to most folks only when something messed up. For sure, all appreciated Paul and his service, but when one does such a great job of fixing issues before they are noticed, sometimes it’s easy to hear only the complaints.
Sometimes it’s easy to share only complaints. We complain about the road work, but we don’t think about those standing in the heat or cold having to do a thankless, yet necessary task. We get upset about a delay in our food, but we don’t think about the overwhelmed server or kitchen staff who may be working as fast as they can.
See the good. Encourage those serving. I will miss Paul, as I miss other saints that have gone before him. So much good is going on in this church, and those performing it need encouragement to grow. In almost every circumstance, the error or the frustration is known by the person involved who is trying to fix it. The word of encouragement is needed so much more. I need to do better in this.
Paul, I love you, and I’ll miss you, not because of what you did but because of who you were.
~ Jeremy Gaines