You may have heard this before but it bears repeating.
Henry Ford was having lunch with a man one day when he asked him, "Who is your best friend?" The man started to name certain people. "No," Ford interrupted him, "I'll tell you who your best friend is. Your best friend is he who brings out the best in you."
Some people confuse bringing out the best in others with pointing out the worst in others. There's a difference.
Your children, your spouse, your friends, your employees and co-workers -- they don't need to hear, "You're disorganized, you're lazy, you're a bad listener," and so on. They probably already know it. What they need from you is a reason to believe they can do better.
That's why Paul said that "everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort." (1 Corinthians 14:3) This is what people need more than criticism. They already have a pretty good idea of what they can't do; they need to be reminded of what they can do, by God's grace. And they need to be encouraged and empowered to keep trying.
I have a friend who often justifies his critical nature with the excuse, "My spiritual gift is prophecy; I call 'em the way I see 'em." That's not prophecy, according to Paul's definition. Not even close.
Do you want a room full of best friends? Make the effort to bring out the best in others, instead of merely pointing out the worst.
Pastor James "Skip" French is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, 1500 Forest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista. Opinions expressed are those of the author.