FIND something nice to say. Seems like, every where you go, you find people ready to be critical, ready with a complaint, ready to tear down, ready to show how other people just blew it.
Encouragement is an amazing thing. It works wonders and has results like no amount of criticism ever had.
For me, it's taken practice to encourage. It's not always my first thought by any means. You look at the bad and say "In what way could this be good?" Was there anything good in this? Or maybe, how could this be made good? Or how might it be good in the long run? What could God be doing here? And sometimes, it's all about timing. As apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken in the right circumstances (Proverbs something).
Something happened at our church today that our pastor is bound to catch some flack for this week. It wasn't his fault and he couldn't have known it was going to happen but he will very likely have some hard times this week because of it. My first thought was to express to him my thoughts on what happened. Then I thought how silly that was because he'd be thinking the same things I was but more so because he'll feel responsible and people will hold him responsible! And the more I thought, the more I realized that what he'll need this week is encouragement and prayer.
So, I sent our pastor a quick note, not complaining but telling him that, knowing people go to him with complaints, I would pray that he receive an extra bit of wisdom and grace this week should he need it. Also, the little thing at our church today made me think of something I value in our pastor but hadn't thought to actually "value" before. So I also took that opportunity to let him know about that. What started out with me being fairly appalled and wanting to complain, turned into a perfect time to encourage.