Error or Opportunity?

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” 
Proverbs 12:25

Many years ago, at what was then Standard Oil Company, an executive’s mistake cost the firm more than two million dollars. On the day the news leaked, the firm’s employees feared the wrath of the powerful head of the company—John D. Rockefeller—and found various ways to avoid him. One partner, however, kept his previously scheduled appointment. When he walked into the president’s office, he saw Rockefeller writing on a pad of paper.

“Oh, it’s you, Bedford,” Rockefeller said calmly. “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?” The partner said that he had. “I’ve been thinking it over,” Rockefeller said, “and before I ask the man to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.” Across the top of the page was written, “Points in favor of Mr. ________.” There followed a long list of the man’s virtues, including a description of how the executive had helped the firm make the right decision on three separate occasions. Since the earnings from these decisions had added up to many times the cost of the recent error, Rockefeller told Bedford that he had decided to seize the opportunity to encourage the executive instead of censure him.

The next time your spouse fails you, you could cut him or her down in a torrent of angry words . . . or you could see a golden opportunity to encourage.

Just between us . . .

• When was I most encouraging to you during a crisis?
• Is there a particular Scripture verse you cling to during tough times?

Lord, we so often underestimate how much influence our words can have. We ask for wisdom to speak encouragement—especially when criticism might be expected. Amen.

• Illustration from More of . . . The Best of Bits and Pieces, ed. Rob Gilbert (Fairfield, N.J.: The Economics Press, 1997). Reprinted in Stories for a Man’s Heart, comp. Al and Alice Gray (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1999).

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This devotional is taken from Night Light for Couples. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.