The Amazing, Life-Changing Power of Blessing
Leaders have enormous power at their disposal. It derives not from their ability to promote or fire. Nor does it stem from their control over finances and their ability to dispense bonuses and salary increases. Leaders actually have an influence that is more impactful and longer lasting, yet, sadly, they use it far too infrequently: the power to bless.
When God established His own people, He made this promise: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3). God’s heart has always been set on blessing His people. The first words in the book of Psalms are, “Blessed is the man who . . .” Jesus began His famous sermon on the mount by declaring, “Blessed are the . . .” We tend to focus on God blessing us. What we often forget is that God intends for us to be a blessing as well. In fact, the reason God blesses us is so we can be a conduit of blessing to others.
In the Old Testament, fathers typically bestowed verbal blessings. Their children might have lost sight of who God intended them to be, as Jacob did when he cheated his brother and lied to his father. But fathers recognized the truth about their children’s future and the good things God intended for them. People believed God would honor those blessings. In fact, God instructed the priests to speak words of blessing over the people regularly (Num. 6:22-27).
Why should leaders make use of blessing? Because today’s society is largely devoid of it. Many children grow up without a father figure. Others have fathers who are abusive, critical, and demanding, not loving. I contend that the absence of blessing is causing much of the unrest, anger, and confusion in society today.
I met a pastor once who was doing a fantastic job with his church. But as I spent time with him, I noticed something: he kept seeking my approval. He rehashed problems he had overcome and opposition he had faced. He shared his victories. I kept assuring him that I was greatly impressed by how God had used him. Yet this man seemed starved for approval. I finally asked what his father thought of his ministry. The pastor instantly became serious. His parents were divorced. He rarely saw his father. On one occasion, his father visited his church. Afterward, his father told him, “What I can’t figure out is why you are wasting your life on something like this.” That statement devastated him.
I realized that the pastor viewed me as a father figure in his life. As a surrogate dad, he longed to hear words of encouragement. My words of affirmation were like pouring cool water onto dry, parched ground. The pastor gobbled them up. People are designed with an innate desire for blessing. Yet many people never experience it. Some have no idea how to respond when they finally receive it.
Leaders have the incredible opportunity to see who God made people to be. Several times in my leadership career, I have seen potential in people who did not recognize it in themselves. At times, I nearly had to force a promotion on them because they were certain they were not up for the task. Sure enough, they grew in their new role and discovered they had been selling themselves short. I have had to do something similar with each of my children. My son Mike assured me as a teenager that he was not bright enough to go to college. Today he has a Ph.D. in apologetics and reads academic books voraciously. My son Daniel is certain he is not a public speaker, but he receives rave reviews whenever he speaks.
The key, of course, is not to say inspiring things that are untrue. Blessing is about far more than sentimentality or wishful thinking. It has to be based on truth. Therefore, if you have been closely observing someone and notice their inner character and potential, you can speak with authority into their life. The fact that you noticed something in them that is deeper than the surface is part of the blessing.
A second way to bless people is to speak words of affirmation about them and their future. Character leads to action. When you discern someone’s character, you gain a glimpse into that person’s future. For example, when you discern that someone has integrity, you can predict, quite confidently, that friends and colleagues will view that person as trustworthy, and that trust will inevitably lead to certain opportunities. Or you may discern that someone is always sensitive to other people’s feelings. Those who are experiencing pain or crisis will inevitably call on such a person.
I have twin grandsons. Emerson is two minutes older than his brother, Logan. Though he is only four, Emerson has always been sensitive to those around him. One evening, their mother brought out their pajamas to put on for the night. Emerson dutifully put on his two-piece ensemble. But Logan discovered, much to his dismay, that the top of his outfit did not match the bottom. An emotional breakdown ensued, as Logan could not face the shame of wearing mismatching pajamas to bed. Without saying a word, Emerson immediately stripped off his own matching pajamas and handed them to his brother. I have seen Emerson exhibit selfless behavior on many occasions. Rather than merely affirming his thoughtful acts, I praise him for being a thoughtful person. I tell him that, as a thoughtful person, I foresee that he will always have plenty of friends and that God will use him to encourage others throughout his life. My words are not just wishful thinking. I have seen Emerson’s character, and God tends to use people like him to bless others.
As a leader, you have the amazing opportunity to bless people. Whether it is your child, your employee, your volunteer, or your friend, you can build them up and give them a brighter future through your words.
The power of blessing is lifechanging. It speaks to people’s deepest needs. It ought to empower the Church. In a society that craves blessing, local churches ought to be flooded with people who sense they can experience blessing there. Likewise, Christian employers and managers ought to have a huge advantage over atheist leaders. Christians have the Holy Spirit residing within them. The Spirit knows each person’s needs and hurts. He can guide you to extend a blessing to those around you.
If you strive to bless others, you will never lack friends. I have known people who even took a cut in pay in order to work alongside someone who blessed them. When you build people up, you are never more like Jesus.
Richard Blackaby is the President of Blackaby Ministries International, an international speaker, and the author or co-author of more than 30 books.