The Power of Blessing Others
About the Guest
Blessing others: It’s a kind of superpower! Author Alan Wright digs into fears that keep us quiet –the hows & whys of living a life of blessing instead.
The Power of Blessing Others
Ann: Do you remember when Cody had a dream when he was little, like, “Oh, I’m going to be in the NFL”; and—
Dave: Oh, yes.
Ann: —“and he’s the littlest person on every team. We’re thinking—
Dave: I mean, not little, tiny.
Ann: —tiny. We’re like, “Okay, he wants to be in the NFL; this isn’t going to happen. How do we break it to him?”
Dave: “We’ve got to tell him this is a ridiculous dream.”
Ann: But then it happened. [Laughter]
Dave: He goes to the NFL—
Ann: He went to the NFL. [Laughter]
Dave: —as a five [ft.] seven [inch] little guy; yes.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: That’s one of the dilemmas you have as a parent: “How do you bless your children and be honest at the same time?” I think every parent wrestles with that, and that’s something we’re going to talk about today—the power of our words, as a mom and dad—and how to bless our children.
We’ve got the guy in the studio that’s been helping us the last couple of days, talking about blessing. Alan Wright, thank you for being back on FamilyLife Today.
Alan: Thank you, Dave and Ann. Thank you so much. That made me give me hope for professional athletics still? I doubt it. [Laughter] But it’s so good to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Dave: Obviously, you’re a dad, and a—
Ann: —a pastor.
Dave: —a pastor, and even a radio host.
Dave: You’re on 400 stations around the country. You’ve written this book, The Power to Bless; and it’s a lot about our words and speaking life, as we’ve said, into our children.
So let’s talk about that very thing. If you’ve got a child, who has a dream like that; but it could be something that’s just/it’s crazy.
Dave: Now they can dream big and anything can happen; but in a sense, you are like,
“They’re not going to ever be a frog; they’re going to be a tadpole.” How do you speak blessing with truth to that? Help parents practically.
Alan: Always grace and always truth. So Jesus was not 50/50; He was 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth. So whatever our response is, let’s measure it by that: “Is my response both grace and truth?”
For example, our son Bennett, he’s a really good golfer. Of all the many things that I helped speak some vision into his life—I saw it; I saw he had the skills for it; I saw this—plus, yes, I love golf; and we played a lot of golf together so that helped also.
But he’s not tall in stature, and he loved basketball/loved basketball. He just wasn’t that good at it, and he wasn’t that tall. So it would have been silly for me to say, “I could really see you being an NBA player”; because I didn’t see that; I didn’t see that at all. I did see that he could really enjoy golf and be good at it, so I would affirm that.
What I would say to that parent—when the child’s saying, “I want to be such and such,”—in the first place, honor the child’s dreams: “I love it when you dream big. God loves it when we have faith. That’s a beautiful thing to aspire to”; okay? You can affirm the dreaming.
I think, so often, what happens is a parent hears a child say something like that and the parent rattles off too quickly, “Oh, you’ll never be that; because you’re just not good enough.”
Alan: What you’ve done is you’ve—not just helped steer a direction—you’ve crushed, not just a dream, but you’ve crushed the joy of dreaming. When our children are little, we let them dream/we want them to dream.
But it doesn’t mean that we come alongside and actually say these ridiculous things like, “You can be whatever you want.” That’s not a blessing. In fact, I think, sometimes, people just receive it as pressure, like, “You could be whatever you want to be if you just set your mind to it.” “Well, I guess the fact that it didn’t happen is because I didn’t set my mind to it.”
It also is just like, “No, I think that it’s like, ‘Okay, I want to affirm your dreams,’ but as they grow, we are speaking what we have as authentic discernment into their lives.” When I didn’t see something, and a child was maybe dreaming toward it, there are ways that, with grace, you begin steering them towards the truth. You don’t dash hopes needlessly, and you don’t come lashing in with harsh words that have no grace attached. Whenever we speak with authentic love, there can be a receptivity to the truth.
I think, therefore, ask yourself, “What does grace and truth say?”—not just truth or just grace. Don’t dash dreams but affirm faith when you see it; and yet, steer it towards the authentic that you see in that child’s life.
Ann: Alan, you don’t know Bruce, our audio engineer very well. He’s been sitting in here with us and listening and working. Show us what it looks like to offer Bruce a blessing. You really don’t know him very well, except for meeting him. He has three daughters. What would that look like? Can we bless people we don’t know very well?
Alan: Oh, 100 percent. Because in the first place, I did meet Bruce for like two minutes.
Alan: So I found out he’s a dad; and I’m sitting in the studio with him, so I can see that he’s a committed to excellence in his work. I could even just see, when you [Bruce] mentioned your kids, I saw love dance around in your eyes. So I already do know some things about you.
But I also know that, before I even met you, I could say this of you:
- You’re made in the image of God; and that therefore, you are bearing the image of Father God in the world. I know that before God spun the cosmos into its place, that He already had a destiny lined up for you.
- I know also, because I see that you’re a man of faith, that in Christ, you were chosen before that foundation of the world to be holy and blameless. As such, you are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. [Ephesians 1:3-4]
See, I can just turn, not knowing you, and say:
“Bruce, it’s good to meet you; and I thank God for you. I see already in your life that there are qualities that are very Christ-like. You can see it just in meeting you, and I believe God is using that.”
I can bless who you are as a dad; and I can say:
“May God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh [Genesis 48:20]; may He make you favored and wise and just able to pour out the Father’s heart of God to your kids.”
I can say:
“Bless you in your work. This is important work that you’re doing with FamilyLife, and you’re shaping other’s lives. What’s in your ear, as you listen to the sound of production being made, you’re actually advancing kingdom; and God bless you in that.”
You see you know more about people than you realize.
Ann: I just want to cry; I am crying, actually, because there’s so much power in that. It makes us rise up to want to become all those things; and it’s everything you spoke is in the Word. It helps us to remember: “This is what God says about us, and we have the power to give that away to other people.” In our world/in our culture, it is giving them one of the greatest gifts they could receive.
Dave: I would just add, what you just said to Bruce, the average person never hears.
Dave: I mean, it isn’t like they don’t hear that in a week or a month; some of them never heard it. Even what you just spoke is like, “Wow, that’s just truth to a guy you barely know; but it’s all true about Bruce.”
If we think our children regularly get that: they don’t get it as school; they don’t get it from their peers, because they’re in competition with one another. Then, when they come home—and they don’t get it from mom or dad—they long to get it. They will go on a search, in probably ways we hope they don’t look for it, to get it.
But if they get it from mom or dad—I mean, if we took a minute every day at the dinner table or whatever and did what you just did—just grab some moment in the day to say, “Son, I just saw something. Could I just…wait…” And they’re running away, like, “Dad!” “No, no, no, no; I just want to say this today: ‘Way to go; you just exhibited traits of what a man does. I just want to say that to you.’” They walk out the door; and you think, “Oh, that wasn’t that big of a deal,”—that sticks.
Alan: It sticks; it goes into you; it becomes part of you; it shapes you. Probably every one of our listeners could identify if you’ve ever had any moment like that—from a parent, a teacher, a friend, a spouse, someone who spoke something like that—you remember it, and it shapes you.
I think part of the thing I want people to know is it’s so easy. It’s really not hard. Can I just give maybe one of the simplest examples of parenting, just where our listeners can say, “If you’re a parent, this is how easy it is”?
When Bennett and I were, one day, driving to the golf course to play golf—he’s maybe ten at most—he loves golf; I love golf—he just piped up and said, “Dad, can you be addicted to gambling?”
I said, “What? Where…where…” [Laughter]
Ann: “Where’s that coming from?”
Alan: I’m sitting there, going, “Where’s that coming—
Dave: He wants to bet on this golf game, I guess.
Alan: —“Where’s that coming from?” [Laughter] He had read about a professional golfer/he had heard something on TV about a professional golfer, who had a problem with gambling. I knew who he was talking about; I thought, “How am I going to explain this to him?”
Eventually, I just settled on the simplest approach; I said, “Bennett, I know that that golfer gets to play the best golf courses in the world: he’s rich; he’s famous.” I said, “But I know something about his family; I know something about his life.” I said, “I don’t think that he really feels that good about himself. When you don’t feel that good about yourself, it’s a bad feeling; and you can look for many ways to just have a good feeling. He must get it from gambling; you can get it from other things.” I said, “I think that’s at the heart of it.”
It was just quiet for a minute. All of a sudden, in just a classic moment, he just piped up and he said, “Well, I love myself.” [Laughter] I just/I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; because they were words of gold to me, which was the fruit of being blessed.
I think, whether it was that same day or not, we played golf. On the first hole, he hit a bad hole. I see him get mad, but he holds it together. I said something to him, “Now, listen, you could still have a good round.” He’s like, “[grumbling sound].” [Laughter] But he doesn’t throw his club; he doesn’t throw a tantrum. He holds it together, and he kind of takes a deep breath; and he has a good hole the next hole and the next.
On the way home—this is how simple and natural blessing is/this is what I want for our families; okay?—I mean, it’s wonderful we would have, every week, a set apart meal, where at least, once a week, I would formally speak a blessing to everybody in the family. But what really we want is—it’s just part of life; right?—so just in the unassuming moments: we’re riding home; and I said, “Hey, Bennett,”—I said—“good round today. That was fun.” He said, “Thanks, Dad.”
I said, “You know, you had that bad first hole.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “You know, I saw you starting to get frustrated, and then you held it together, and you went on and you had a good round.” I said, “You know, there’s a phrase for that in the Bible; it’s called self-control.” I said, “That’s the fruit of self-control.” I said, “You’re still a kid.” I said, “But I just want you to know that I already see a lot of self-control in you, and I believe you’re going to grow into a young man…”—I get emotional; I don’t know why—“I believe you’re going to grow into a young man, who has a lot of self-control.” I just added, “Bennett, in my experience, men in this world who have self-control go very far.”
How long did that take?—maybe 30 seconds or a minute. It just doesn’t take long. The way I describe the steps is very simple. It is: “When you see a virtue in someone else—maybe more clearly than they do—you see it; so you become a treasure hunter in others:—
Ann: That’s a good way to say it.
Alan: —“See that; and then you affirm it with a positive vision with the words that you speak by calling it out and identifying it. And then, you attach to it positive possibilities for their future. You affirm the treasure; and you say, ‘This is how I see it being part of your identity…’” It’s not just a compliment; it’s not buttering somebody up; it’s helping them to see who they are: “Well, I’m a person of self-control.” Then you attach positive possibilities. We can do that with anybody at any time. It’s not hard, but it’s laden with spiritual power.
Bennett, indeed, became and is a man of about as much self-control as anybody I’ve ever been around. When he excelled so much in law school and was awarded a prestigious clerkship in the federal level, the federal judge was speaking to him one day and said, “How have you done so well, Bennett?” He’s kind of modest; and he said, “I don’t know.” The judge looked at him; he said, “I think you underestimate your ability to concentrate for a long period of time.”
Well, what that is—is self-control; right? I mean, that’s like I’m sitting there, taking a test—I was laughing the other day, like standardized test, where you’ve got to read the passage and then answer questions about it—I’m reading the passage, and I’m looking out the window; you know? [Laughter]
In life, whatever it is—if you can have the fruit of self-control—it’s not just about not having angry outbursts; it’s about the whole direction of your life. Is something like that so important to our life? Does that begin with a little seed of blessing like that? I think it does.
Ann: It’s interesting; I have this stark memory for me, being seven years old, of something very much like that. My family was moving into a new city/new school; I was in the first grade. We don’t usually have profound memories of first grade.
Dave: I’m glad you moved to that city—
Ann: Yes, but—
Dave: —that’s where we met.
Ann: —but before that, I had already gone through sexual abuse from the time that I was four years old.
Ann: I was super scared, super insecure. I had a first grade teacher, where I had originally gone to school, who didn’t always see the best in me. I had three siblings before me that all had learning disabilities. So when I came into that same class, with the same teacher, she probably presumed a lot. I knew—even though we didn’t name it: “The Worst Reading Group,”—I was in the worst reading group. I was also in a class for speech therapy; I remember feeling really bad about myself.
I moved into this new city; and on the first day of the first grade, with this new teacher, I was so scared. I walked into the class, and she got down on her knee. She put both hands on my shoulders, and she looked at me in the eyes; and she said, “You are a beautiful little girl.
Alan: Oh, wow.
Ann: “And I can tell that you’re really smart.” She said, “I would predict that, by the end of the year, you’re going to be the smartest girl in this class.” I mean, I feel like that was yesterday that I heard those words. I remember feeling like, “No one has ever said anything like that to me in my life!”
It’s so interesting, she put me in the best reading group/the most advanced reading group, and I couldn’t even read. Everyone in that class was reading, even in the lowest reading groups; and she put me in the best reading group. Just like that, I rose up; and by the end of the year, I was neck and neck with this one little girl that I was the best reader in the class. It's exactly what you’re saying, Alan: “When somebody sees it in you, and they call it out of you, you rise up/you think, ‘I can do that.’”
I think it would be cool to end our time together with you just praying and speaking blessing over our listeners. I think that would be really powerful.
Alan: I would love to do that. Maybe to start with a word to all the women who are listening and to say: “Would you let me stand in, maybe for a dad, who never spoke these words; but to sort of receive it from someone, who’s representing God, but also maybe representing what someone important to you—your dad or someone else—wasn’t able to say?”
It just wells up within me, first to say, I’m glad you were born; and I’m glad you were born a girl. I’m glad that God envisioned you and made you who you are. There’s no part of your being that is accidental. It is God’s plan, and He has put you together in a way that your soul is unique and your gifts are like no one else’s. It’s not just that your fingerprints match no one else’s, it’s that the whole spiritual DNA of your life is like no one else’s.
So I want to bless you and say how much you matter and to say that I’d like to bless you to be fully free, rejoicing in God, to know that, not only does your life matter, but that in the days to come, God is going to use you.
I’d like to be able to say to all the women who are listening:
For the ways that you have been hurt—for the smallest little wounds and the deepest trauma—that God wants you to know He’s always been there. He wasn’t the God who was missing when you went through your difficult time.
I’m blessing you to have a new narrator in your life—that fear wouldn’t be the narrator of your story—but love would be/the perfect love of God to cast out all fear. I’m blessing you that you would be under the sound of the gospel, more and more full of faith and expectancy of what is to come. There’s no telling what might happen tomorrow when God is directing your steps.
And, men, maybe the words that every son wants to hear from a father, but seldom hears, let me just speak it on behalf of someone who maybe just didn’t know how to say it:
I’m proud of you. I know I don’t know you—we’re separated maybe by digital broadcast or radio airwaves—but I’m proud of you through the heart and the eyes of God. In the best sense of the word, I want to say that God’s pride in you and any fatherly pride in you is not because of your accomplishments but because of who you are.
I bless you to be released from performance anxiety; I bless you to enjoy son-ship with the Father; I bless you to know that your mistakes/your sin does not define you.
I think of Joseph who, when he resisted the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, he didn’t do so out of his will power; but he said, “My master’s put me in charge of his whole household; how could I do such a thing?” I’m blessing you to know your identity. This is the way of accountability, and this is the way that you’re going to find more and more victory over sin. You are no longer a slave to sin; you are in Christ, already seated with Him—already, though you may not feel it, already reigning with Him—and there is more power at work in you by the Holy Spirit than you realize.
I’m blessing that in you, men; I’m blessing it and thanking God for you.
To all/to anyone under the sound of my voice, what a privilege it is to say, “The Lord bless you and keep you and be kind and gracious to you and make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace today and forever.”
Ann: Thanks, Alan.
Shelby: My wife once told me that, if I were intentional about paying compliments and giving blessings to people who I knew and didn’t know, it would go a distance that I wouldn’t even be able to fathom. A lot of times we’ve held back. Maybe we didn’t give the compliment; or maybe we felt prompted to do a nice gesture, but we didn’t take the opportunity.
Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking with Alan Wright today about the power to bless people, who we don’t even know, when God calls us to be a blessing. “Why?”—because He first blessed us.
Alan Wright has written a book called The Power to Bless: How to Speak Life and Empower the People You Love. This has been a really important conversation, and he’s written a very important book. This is the kind of book that you could read through yourself, read through with your spouse, or even gift it to a friend or family member to unlock their potential on how to be a blessing to others. “Why?”—again, because God has so richly blessed us. You can head over to FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call at 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Speaking of blessing, one of the best ways that we, at FamilyLife, can bless you is by praying for you. I have the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, here with me today, talking about one of the best ways to bless the people, who are a part of this ministry and help make this ministry possible; and that’s by praying for you.
David: Yes; we’re so grateful to have a team that specifically prays for the prayer requests you send in. I get to be a part of that team as the president of FamilyLife. Just today:
- I prayed for a FamilyLife Today listener whose son just got diagnosed with schizophrenia;
- for a husband that’s praying that [his] wife doesn’t follow through with filing for divorce;
- then I just read this from Jason, and just prayed for Jason, where he wants to be the husband and father that God calls him to be. He just says in this prayer request: “FamilyLife podcasts have been a huge encouragement to me these past number of months. My wife and I will also be headed to a Weekend to Remember® in February. Please pray it will help us heal our marriage in ongoing ways.”
Jason, I just want you to know we’re praying for you. And for all of you, who are sending in your prayer requests, know that our team sincerely prays for you. We’re grateful to get to journey alongside you in your pursuit of God and, also, those other meaningful relationships in your life with your spouse, or you kids, and those in your home and family. We’re thankful to get to lock arms with you. Thank you to those of you who give that allow us to keep ministering to people in their time of need. You’re making a difference, and we’re grateful for you.
Shelby: That’s true; we are deeply grateful.
If this content today, or any of the FamilyLife programs have been helpful for you, we’d love for you to share today’s podcast with a friend or family member as a way to advance what we’re doing in this ministry. Wherever you get your podcasts, it could really push forward the gospel effort of FamilyLife Today if you’d scroll down, and rate and review us; that would be super helpful.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to be hearing from Danny Huerta, talking about parenting troubled children in stepfamilies. That’s our conversation tomorrow; we hope you can join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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