I am speaking to you continually: words of Life . . . Peace . . . Love. Tune your heart to receive these messages of abundant blessing.
Other than praying, what should we do when someone we love isn’t living up to their potential?
We can bless them.
God blessed Adam and Eve and then released them to be fruitful, multiply, and rule. For most of my life, I believed the opposite. I assumed that if I performed well, then I would be blessed. But Genesis 1:28 radically upends the order of events. With God, the blessing is not the reward for productivity—it’s the power for it.
Blessing is a positive, faith-filled vision spoken in accord with God’s Word over someone’s life. It’s stronger than encouragement and altogether different than prayer.
Though often unfamiliar to present-day Christians, blessing in the Bible is fundamental—an essential. Everyone knew the power of blessing.
You can too.
Bless the children
We have a framed family photo taken in 2001 at Disney World’s Chef Mickey restaurant that I’ve kept, even though three-year-old Abby isn’t smiling. She’s dolled up in a Minnie costume at the “happiest place on earth” and isn’t smiling because she hardly ever grinned for the first several years of her life. We named her after David’s wife in the Bible, because Abigail, in Hebrew, means “my father’s joy.” She was made for joy.
Our son, Bennett, born four years prior to Abby, came into a silly, lighthearted home where we rolled on the carpet and giggled. I’d rub my nose on baby Bennett’s bare tummy, and he’d cackle. Soon after Abby was born, a squall blew into our home and our climate of joy turned into an atmosphere of dark sadness. My wife’s best friend was her baby sister, Mary, a young wife and mother to four little children. She developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. She was so young, never smoked… it couldn’t be cancer. By the time they found it, the cancer had invaded her bones. Within a year, our sweet Mary died. I recount the grief to explain why, during the formative first year of her life, Abby nursed in the arms of a sobbing mother.
It explains why we can’t find any baby pictures of Abby smiling.
Blessings every day
Several miracles and several years later, Anne and I were smiling again, but Abby wasn’t. The great sadness we had weathered had imprinted her infant soul. She had joy in her name but not in her heart.
We never said, “Oh well, Abby is going to be our melancholy child.” Instead, we decided to bless her every day for who she was designed to be—her father’s joy. We began speaking the promise of Isaiah assuring us of “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV). I sang a blessing over her every night. Every day I reminded her of her name. “You’re Abigail—it means ‘my father’s joy.’ You’re a child of joy.”
We weren’t trying to veer Abby away from her given nature. We were blessing her toward her true self.
I can’t point to the day it happened. A miracle just slowly, surely unfolded. Abby became her name. She started wrestling and giggling with Bennett and me. She discovered the delight of a belly laugh. And she grew into a wise and beautiful woman of great joy. I wish you could see how much she loves life and people. I wish you could hear the way she spins a joke and see the way she can light up a room. She ought to be a Disney princess.
Start blessing others today
It doesn’t take long to bless someone, and it isn’t difficult. I remember a round of golf I played with our son Bennett when he was about twelve. He started the round with a bad hole—a double bogey. Golf can be maddening, but young Bennett fought off the frustration, threw no clubs, and with surprising composure played a good round despite the ugly start.
During our conversation on the way home, I casually said, “Bennett, today when you made that double bogey to start your round, I could see you were frustrated. I know how it feels. You could have let your frustrations take over, but instead, you kept your mind in the game and went on to play a good round of golf. The Bible has a word for that kind of virtue: self-control. In my experience, people who have a lot of self-control go far in this world. Bennett, I see you growing into a young man who is full of self-control, and I think it’s going to help you succeed in life.” That took about thirty seconds, but you can imagine the impact words like that have.
The steps to speaking blessing are simple:
1. Affirm a virtue you see in someone more clearly than they see it in themselves
2. Connect the virtue to their identity (you’re helping them discover who they are!)
3. Connect their virtuous identity to a positive future
When people you love are discouraged, wayward or unmotivated, you aren’t helpless. In Christ, you have been given the power to bless!