During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common in North America to have what was called a barn raising. People from the community would come together in order to build a barn for one of its members. This would happen many times over as new members moved into the community. Because of the heavy lifting required, no one man could do it alone. Huge trees had to be cut down with only hand saws, and then horses had to drag them back to the farm. Then they had to do many other things to get to the finished product. I have no idea all the jobs that had to be done, but they did. Each man and woman knew their job and were willing to work together to see the project through to the end.
Though people of that time prided themselves in being self-sufficient and not being in debt to one another, they realized the need for interdependence when it came to large jobs such as putting up a barn. They were each willing to give their portion of time, talent, and sweat. This fostered a sense of community which strengthened the bonds of family and friendship. All hands came together to share what time and talents they had for the greater good of the community.
We don’t have the need anymore for barn raisings. We are more independent than ever before. So much so that we’ve lost the sense of interdependence Americans once had. We can pay someone to do our heavy lifting for us while we each go our separate ways and do our own thing. Trust me, I’m not complaining that I don’t have to help raise a barn anymore. What I am concerned about is another type of lifting we aren’t doing – lifting each other. I know many times it’s not on purpose. It’s just that we are so busy doing our own thing that we forget to remember others.
Many times we do remember people, but it’s not to lift them. It’s to tear them down. Benjamin Franklin said,
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.”
This goes on in our homes, workplaces, churches, and our political arena. There are people who make a living making fun of others or criticizing how people do their jobs, especially politicians. I’m not going there! Where I am going with this is to ask that we please remember how important it is to lift others.
Lifting others does not mean that we always agree with them. Sometimes we lift them in prayer because of our disagreements. When we do lift them in prayer, we should also pray for ourselves that we may see if we are in error. Benjamin Franklin also said,
For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.”
We may sometimes be wrong in our opinions, but we are never wrong when we are lifting others. Remember, just like with a barn, it takes no talent to tear down. Complaining and criticizing doesn’t help anyone. Just like the settlers of the 18th and 19th centuries built barns, communities, and themselves through service, we can do the same as we learn to lift our fellow man. How easy it is to sit behind a computer and criticize someone whose job you have never done! Let’s abolish the anonymity of cyber criticism and step into the spotlight of service.
Ronald Reagan said,
We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Go do some heavy lifting and help someone today. Let’s strengthen our communities and our characters through service. Let’s follow the admonition of Paul to the Philippians,
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The next time you are tempted to criticize your spouse, your boss, or someone in Washington, just remember you’ll do a lot more good by looking for ways to make things better. Look for ways to lift. Just like lifting heavy weights builds our physical muscles, lifting others will build our characters. My personal mantra is “I am here to love and lift and share my gift.” Our gifts are meant to be give away to bless others. Let’s make this world better by doing more heavy lifting.