EDIFY . . . How many times have you heard that word today? How about in the last in week, month or year? It’s not one of those words that we hear mentioned very often in day-to-day conversation, yet the significance of the word EDIFY could be overwhelming if we stop and consider what it means and the life- changing possibilities that come with it when put into practice. I know where I first found the word, and I am inspired every time I read it several places in the Bible. So what does the word EDIFY mean and why would I bring it up in this newsletter and even make a bold statement that it could be “life changing”?
To edify, as I understand it, simply means to build up, enlighten, inform, educate, instruct and to simply do all of this for the good of something or someone else. Maybe we do not hear the word spoken in day-to-day conversation, but I wonder if you or I have noticed it taking place around us or maybe, more importantly, have ourselves stopped to edify a situation or person? You know what I’m asking, I hope. Have you or I really cared enough to take the time out of our generally self-imposed busy life and sincerely helped a person through education or instruction for no other reason than for an outcome of … GOOD? Are you thinking about it? Can you think of an example? I don’t mean shouting at the kids to clean their room, “if they know what’s good for them.” Or brushing aside a sense of compassion to instruct your spouse in an ugly tone that if she doesn’t look correctly at the map and tell you which way to turn, then you’re going to miss the exit. Maybe you might be a leader or manager of people and are thinking that the orders you barked out this morning on what tables need to be set or greens mowed or inventory counted or report written was an act of edifying. Yet was the good that came out of it for another person’s good or for yours? Did people leave your instruction feeling better about who they are and what they are doing? Did you share your thoughts in such a way that when you were back in the security of your office they were talking to each other about you and it sounded something like … “She really offered a great idea and I am going to use it because it will help us get the work done better.” Or, was it something, well, completely opposite and using descriptive words that would challenge you to take your instructions and purposely place them somewhere that in reality was anatomically impossible?
When the good coming out of an instructing or teaching situation builds up someone else, it is edifying; when the good is solely for us … it is simply called selfish. I wonder how much could be accomplished each day if those we teach or lead became those we edified or lifted up? I wonder if the results would reflect a sense of purpose and direction because the person doing them felt good in the process? I will venture to say the answer is yes, and just as I feel great helping a group of people learn in a seminar or coaching situation, I can also feel great if my conversations at a rental car counter or in a restaurant or at my kitchen table also build the person across from me with the words I use.
Edify? I think it’s a word that we should put back into our everyday vocabulary and see if it might make our lives better in the process of teaching others.
– Jim Paluch
We had the opportunity to work with a group of students at Brigham Young University last month in a two-day leadership workshop. There is no way to put into words how rewarding it is to touch the lives of young people and see real evidence in their responses that what you have said and done to edify them will actually make a difference in their lives. How fortunate to leave a teaching situation as inspired as your students! It was clear, however, that some other factors setting the stage for these students to succeed stand out far beyond what I could accomplish in two days of teaching on personal development and leadership. One that my partner and I commented on repeatedly throughout the session was the inspiring connection we saw between the professors and the students there. Having the privilege of working with Phil Allen, Professor of Plant & Wildlife Sciences, and Greg Jolley, Professor of Landscape Management, in the past, we already knew their commitment to their students. But it seems to go far beyond the need to teach or improve or instruct. There is a sincere desire to enhance the lives of these young people that exceeds even the BYU expectation to create a learning atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of their faith. These professors passionately enjoy every interaction with their students and clearly appreciate who they are as well as who they can be. Simply stated, they are friends and thrive on interacting in ways that prove it. Whether it is racing in bare feet in the snow, throwing frisbee at the break, being part of the celebration as a team building exercise was completed or candidly discussing what it means to be a leader in every aspect of your life … expectations are set incredibly high and yet they seem to be in it together. In educating the whole person, they edify the lives of their students and reap great results.
Another rewarding part of the student experience is receiving cards and letters after the event. Along with their appreciation for the things that were taught and the ways we teach them, each message that followed from this group of students mentioned their parents or the way they were brought up. As one student said, “I don’t feel that I learned any new principles at the workshop (I have amazing parents who teach me these principles every day), but I know that I gained a much greater desire to live by these principles.” Think of the power of educators building up great students that support positive things they have been taught all of their lives. Then imagine the next step and the impact an employer or colleague can have if they too are driven to not only teach or instruct but to edify with their words and actions with the understanding that when we build strong people we build strong businesses! THAT IS POWERFUL TO THINK ABOUT!