Patience and Praise are like secret weapons when it comes to working changes for good over the hearts of others. They are especially powerful when others seem to deserve them least!
I believe most of us don't use them or forget to use them because it sounds just too simple. Here is an INSPIRING story that was presented by my dear friend, Melissa, at the recent LDSEHE Conference. My husband and I are long-time friends of Shawn and Melissa and can vouch for their wonderful characters!
"My good husband has a natural gift of seeing the good in others. He has an amazing heart, an eternal perspective and more patience than all of us in this room combined. When we were first married we were called to be the Sunday School teachers for the 14 and 15 year olds in a family ward near BYU. People literally gave us their condolences and wished us good luck and safety. I was a little worried."
"One lady came up to us and told us we would not last long in that class because the kids were just terrible, and especially this one boy named Troy. Well, they were all right. This class was awful, especially Troy. He was belligerent, rude, disrespectful, and just plain terrible. I had never seen anyone like him in my life! Later he told us that his goal was to do whatever he could to make us hate him, and let me tell you, he was very skilled in his approach. Many times I wanted to snatch him right out of the class and let him have a good southern talking to!"
"I remember one time right in the middle of the lesson Troy started building a tower out of the chairs. I wanted to tell him to stop, but my husband just stood there quietly and watched him. Then when Troy was finished, Shawn proceeded to tell him what a wonderful tower he had built, and how it was structurally sound, and that he was really smart to know how to do it that well. And he threw in a few engineering terms and made Troy look like this amazingly talented kid and had the other students admire his work. That definitely would not have been my approach to this situation, but this is how every single class was on Sundays. Shawn never let me reprimand him or pull him out of the class. He just kept loving him and finding anything good he could about Troy."
"After a while, Troy stopped doing those awful things, and he changed, and he loved Shawn. We moved away within that year, but we got a call one day from Troy asking us if we would come to his mission farewell, which was a miracle in itself. And he told us that when we were his teachers he had tried so hard to make us hate him, but no matter what he did, we just showered on more love. And no one had ever treated him that way before and it had changed his life."
We have seen patience and praise work in our family countless times when we gather for family prayer. If we can find one person even half-way kneeling and then point it out by saying, "I see 'so in so' is kneeling and being very reverent," within seconds everyone will be ready for the prayer. It seems to even work with teens, which is really quite amazing.
So don't forget to use "the Secret Weapons" daily in your family!