How to Build

Posted on July 29, 2013 | 54 comments

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Part of loving others is the need to build others up.

But in the church, because of the influence of the culture around us, there is confusion about what building others up means.

What are we building? What is the purpose of building up others? What is the basis we are building upon?

That is a good place to start with how to build.

1. Building up is truthful.

It you have tuned into any of the reality competition shows like America’s Got Talent, The Voice, American Idol, etc., there is a refrain you hear over and over again:

“You are a star.”

Clearly that is not the truth. How many stars can there be? Not as many as ascribed to by these shows.

In our culture we have substituted flattery for building up.

So we much too easily tell people they are the best – speaker, spouse, employee, athlete, student, beauty, etc.

Flattery exaggerates, giving a false impression. Flattery is not based in truth.

Flattery builds up the false self. It appeals to our desire to compare. (see What Comparison Does) To know how we stack up, so we can base our sense of self on that knowledge.

The problem with the foundation of sand is what happens when that false impression is not validated? When the student who has been told they are amazing and special fails a test? Or the athlete that has been coddled does not make the team?

There will be shame (a questioning of worth) and a crisis of the false self.

2. Building up is not selfish.

How many times have you attempted to build someone up in order to get something in return?

Building another up is not a way to get what you want. Doing this becomes a way to inflate our own false self.

If I tell this person she is beautiful, maybe she’ll say the same back to me.

Or if I complement this person’s ability, then they will say something nice about what they see in me.

Or even, if I am nice to this person, they’ll let me use their condo.

Love is the motivation to build up another. (1 Corinthians 8:1) Love does not expect a return.

3. Building up is not always positive.

Western culture is extremely feelings oriented. So, we have bought into the mantra that we should not hurt someone else’s feelings.

So we will tolerate bad behaviors and even sin in order to avoid the offense of hurting another’s feelings.

This is enabling.

The reality is that sometimes to build up, there may need to be awareness of negative things. Maybe your spouse does not know how their behavior is affecting those around them. Maybe your child needs a little discipline to grow.

This is different from tearing down. Tearing down is telling another how they don’t measure up and taking away their value. Tearing down is shaming.

Building up is always compassionate. There is the offer to walk alongside. (see More Compassion Bearers)

4. Building up is rooted in Gospel truth.

Yes, you should definitely tell your daughter, wife, mother, or friend that she is beautiful.

But why? Is she beautiful because she has conformed to culture’s image of beauty? Or is she beautiful because she was lovingly created by God?

There is a difference. One enslaves or creates insecurity the other frees.

Building up should direct others toward their true identity. The foundation of rock.

As we build others up, it should create a better awareness of who the other is in Christ and how we see that on display.

Building up is a reminder of truth, necessary in the battle to overcome the lies the false self preys upon.

Building up is rooted in the Gospel. (see What is the Gospel?)

What are some practical ways to build up those around you?

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  1. I’m always interested in a post on how to communicate and especially encourage others, Scott, so this really caught my attention when I saw it on Facebook. You are able to dissect things in a way that helps it to make better sense for the rest of us–and no, I’m not trying to flatter, but rather “build up!” 🙂 Have a great week!

    • Thanks for building me up! I always look forward to your comments. Thanks for your blog friendship!

  2. “Building up should direct others toward their true identity. The foundation of rock.” Amen

  3. Hi there! I am visiting from Hear It On Sunday…

    Isn’t it wonderful that you are busy here doing just what St. Paul would want you to do…building people up! It looks like you have a thriving speaking life too, and that must make you feel so fulfilled.

    We should build people up to Christ. Speaking the truth sets us all free, and then we are really strong! You made good comments about enabling too.

    So nice to meet you!

    • Thanks for coming by and commenting. Means a lot. God bless.

  4. You are very right. We do use flattery and charm as a form of building up. But sometimes building up someone is not pretty and euphoric. We must pray that God gives us the right words and that the receiver is responsive. I had a friend who the Lord kept telling me to talk to about a negative aspect about her personality that was keeping her from maintaining frienships. When I did tell her this(in a loving way, not sugar coated, but not mean either) she got very upset and broke off our relationship. A year later she learned that I was only trying to help her but I couldn’t allow her to continue to be hurtful to other’s and I needed to help build her up in that area. She now sees my conversation with her for what it was and has come to appreciate it.

    • Love sometimes hurts, right? Glad your friend came around. Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Thanks for linking up with us today, by the way!

  6. Let our words be sweetened with grace and honey.

  7. I think all of us need building up at times. Whether is be compliments or just the advice that we really need to make the right changes in our lives.

  8. Thanks for sharing this on Pin it Monday. This is a very good article. I am glad you shared. We need more building up rather than tearing down.

    Handmade at Warratahstree

  9. Well said! Building up others is one of those gifts that lifts up both the giver and the recipient. Especially the “constructive criticism” type of building up can really strengthen relationships if done properly 🙂

  10. Your post outlines some important truths. Thank you for sharing at “Tell Me a Story.” Just a word is sometimes enough to build up a person. As you say, not flattery or something not true, but honest gratitude. At our church we have a young lady who is “slow,” and the ladies often allow her to light the candles at the front of the church. The last time she did this, I touched her shoulder and said, “I liked the lovely way you lit the candles today.” She smiled and I know it caused her to be built up.

    As Christians we must seek to build ourselves up on our most holy faith. If we are not in the mix where we get the applause of others, at least we are thankful that God sees our effort and rewards us largely.

  11. If you enjoy visiting linkies, photo challenges, and blog hops – or if you host one of your own – please consider visiting here:
    Be sure to link your recurring hop under the day when it’s normally posted.

    • Thanks for the invitation, I stopped by the page. I appreciate your comment!

  12. Great points, Scott! We all want to help and build up others, but sometimes building up is not quite what we think it is. Thank you for helping us define it and apply it!

  13. I especially appreciate numbers 3 & 4. Sometimes, building up means saying the hard truth, doesn’t it? This is a good checklist for me to go through when I am giving feedback to others, Scott. Thanks for this!

  14. Hi Scott,

    I haven’t “met” you yet, but found this post through Wise Women. The truth does sometimes hurt, but we are called, as followers of Christ, to speak the truth in love and hope that God will take care of the rest. I had to do this with our adult daughter a few years ago. She was a bit out of control, I told her how much we loved her, but that we couldn’t “support” her ways anymore and that we would always love her, but she would need to love herself for who she was. We lost her for more than a year. It was the hardest time we had ever been through. When she finally reached out to us, she told us that we were the only ones who had been honest with her and this truth we spoke helped her to make the changes needed in her life.

    Your post will help many people. Blessings, Kim

    • I’m sorry for your heart wrenching experience. Glad your daughter came back, that is a blessing. Thanks for sharing. Glad we have “met”!

  15. Very good points here. I think in parenting it is so important to build up our children to believe in themselves. That doesn’t mean they are a “star” like you pointed out, but that they are capable. I spent my childhood being torn down much of the time and find that I have to be careful not to overdo the building up with my children to the point of falseness. Very nicely said.

  16. What excellent information … being able to communicate effectively is so important and at times we need posts like these to remind us how to do it 🙂 Thank you.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. 🙂

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  17. Some people don’t want to be built up, but I find even then small positives come into play with time.

    • That is true, and part of loving others is sometimes giving them what they do not want. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  18. Very thought-provoking post, Scott. I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes after I read it trying to really think how I build someone up. Suddenly, I remembered the method they use in my daughter’s violin lessons. In the Suzuki method of teaching, there’s lots of positive reinforcement. When a child plays a solo for a group, we go around the group & we each say somehting we enjoyed about how the child played the piece. It is such a good excercise for us all. “Great bowhand. Good tone. Nice posture. Great recovery.” Think if we all gave one another kind words regularly, how edifying! Sounds like the Bible to me! Thanks so much for your faithfulness in linking up on Wednesday. I really appreciate your posts there, even though I don’t always say so! Juana

    • Thank you for saying so today! I’ve been thinking about how and my frequency in building others up too.

  19. Amen to every point! I’m wondering if we are losing what it really means to build someone up in our culture. We can’t truly build someone up if we never want to make them sad or upset or cause them to think about what they are doing in a deeper way. Thanks for this!

    • True. Feelings can get in the way of building someone up.

  20. Love this sentence you have: “Love is the motivation to build up others.” Whew! That hits home. Please keep sharing the great thoughts and I’m visiting over from Katherine’s Corner…

    • It was great to have you visit. Thanks!

  21. Great points. Thank you for the thought provoking post.

    • Thanks for dropping by and reading.

  22. In a culture of empty flatter, and vain conceit, these words are humbling and oh, so needed! I also so agree….”Building up should direct others toward their true identity.”

  23. Wow, this is really good—especially the part about building up not being “flattering”. And…that when we build up others, it’s not always going to be something they want to hear. Thanks for the thoughtful article. I really appreciate you linking up!

  24. Thanks for linking up this week- great thoughts on building up.

  25. Hi Scott, I followed your link from NanaHood, I think (?). This is an incredible post and I just reposted to my FB. I’ll also link to your FB soon after posting my comment. I’m always looking for practical ways to build others up and I generally simply ask my Lord to afford the opportunities. He never fails; daily! Which is no small feat, since I’m basically home bound due to physical problems. But, through incredible technology there is no limit. Every bit of your post is awesome, but this line really stood out to me; “Building up is a reminder of truth, necessary in the battle to overcome the lies the false self preys upon.” Well said, especially the “lies the false self preys upon”! Thank you!

  26. What a powerful message! Being truthful in love can be so difficult to do. You gave me much to consider about tolerating behaviors that negatively impact others. I love how you wrote about building up and our true identity in Christ.

  27. Wow. This is really amazing. I loved how you broke this down in a way that can help make this “easy” to do! I especially loved “Building up should direct others toward their true identity.” That is Truth. Great post.

  28. Good advice that we should all take to heart. Thanks for posting this.

  29. Happy Friday! My Friday Flash Blog linky party is live @ The Jenny Evolution – a flash mob of blogs where you share your favorite posts of the week. Hope you there — you may just get highlighted next week!


  30. Funny I should come across this post today. I have been trying to build up someone in my life who has had a extreme martyr attitude for some time – making herself miserable and everyone around her unhappy also. So far I have tried to be kind and bring all her negative thinking to her attention carefully as to not hurt her feelings. She doesn’t seem to get it. Today I wrote a post on gratitude. I am hoping she will read it and soon be grateful for the good things she has and her eyes will open. Thank you for such an interesting post.

  31. Speaking the truth in love will always be a correct way to build others up. We lose effectiveness when we either don’t speak the truth or do speak it, but in judgment, not love.

  32. Thank you for your helpful teaching, and for linking with us at #TellHisStory. Grateful for your words.

  33. I enjoyed reading these wise words.

  34. Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

  35. God words to ponder. It is a pleasure to visit you here as in today’s world we all could use all the encouragement we can find. I hope your week is wonderful and I thank you for sharing today.

  36. I teach Middle School Religion and this is a great topic for discussion. Thanks for sharing. Erin

  37. Really good question to ask about something we take for granted. I agree with many of your thoughts! It was good to see you back at Thrilling Thursday- thanks for linking up!

  38. “Love is the motivation to build up another. (1 Corinthians 8:1) Love does not expect a return.” This is so good. Everything we do must be rooted in love, love for Jesus first, and for others second. If our intent is to receive a return, then our motives are wrong. Thank you for linking up with The Weekend Brew!

  39. Scott, I want you to know you are truly a vessel in the hands of a loving God. No flattery here, just flat truth. You always offer fresh perspective and give me something to study and pray over. This post is no exception.

    • Kasey,
      I am really humbled by your comment. Thank you for offering me that gift. It is tough for me to see myself like that, and this has been a tough week, so your words are refreshing to my soul.

  40. #3 is especially true and can be so hard to grasp.

    • Yes, #3 is not popular because when we have to live truthfully, we may feel like we are losing something.

  41. This is such a great post! I am going to share this with my kids tomorrow.


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