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Building Up Others

Building up one another with encouragement

by Revd Guy Donegan-Cross (revised, originally published in 2002)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To demonstrate the value of encouragement.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a pile of large, wooden building bricks such as Jenga blocks.


  1. Explain that today’s assembly considers peoples talents. Point out that everybody has talents, and sometimes they are surprising ones. Ask the children to think of some talents that they know other children possess.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Point out that not everyone has these talents. Not everyone is good at football or can dance, sing, paint and so on. However, there are some things that all of us can do – talents that each of us has.

    Ask the children for examples of talents that all of us have.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Encourage the children to think about qualities such as friendship, listening, talking and supporting.

  3. Ask the children whether they know what a talent agency is. Explain the term to them and then tell the following short story.

    A man walked into a talent agency, hoping to be hired as a speciality act. The agent said, ‘OK, tell me a bit more. What do you do?’
    The man said, I imitate birds. 
    The agent replied, Listen, I cant use you. Bird imitations are two a penny. Youre just wasting my time. Get out of here!
    At this,
    the man flapped his arms and flew out of the window!

  4. Point out that people often have talents that we dont recognize - we should make sure that we are on the lookout for them.

  5. Show the pile of wooden bricks.

    Start to build a simple tower by using the bricks. When the tower is reasonably tall, explain that people can be like this tower. We can build people up by the things that we say to them.

    For example, You did that well. (Add another brick.)
    ‘Youre great at . . . (Add another brick.)
    ‘Thank you for being my friend. (Add another brick.)

    Ask the children for suggestions and add further bricks as you continue to build.

    Then, point out that the discouraging things we say can pull people down.
    You didnt do that very well. (Take off a brick.)
    Youre not very clever, are you? (Take off another brick.)

    Again, ask for suggestions and take bricks away from the bottom of the tower until the tower collapses.

  6. Emphasize that encouraging people is important. Tell the following story, building the tower again as you tell it.

    Dante Gabriel Rossetti

    Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a famous nineteenth-century poet and artist. One day, he was approached by an elderly man. The old fellow had some sketches and drawings that he wanted Rossetti to look at and tell him if they were any good, or at least if they showed talent that could be developed. Rossetti looked over them carefully. After the first few, he knew that they were worthless, so he told the elderly man as gently as possible that the pictures were without much value and showed little talent. He was sorry, but he could not lie to the man.

    The old man was disappointed, but seemed to expect Rossettis judgement. He apologized for taking up Rossettis time, but asked him to look at just a few more drawings, explaining that they were sketches by a young art student. Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately became enthusiastic over the talent that they revealed.
    These, he said, oh, these are good. This young student has great talent. He should be given every help and encouragement in his career as an artist. He has a great future if he will work hard and stick at it.
    Rossetti could see that the old fellow was deeply moved. Who is this fine young artist? he asked. Your son? 
    No, said the old man sadly. It is me, 40 years ago. If only I had heard your praise then! You see, I got discouraged and gave up - too soon. 

Time for reflection

Emphasize again that everyone needs encouragement. The Bible says that we should build each other up to be like this tower.

Encourage the children to think about the following questions.

- Can you think of a time when someone has encouraged you and made you feel really good about yourself?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Can you think of a way in which you could encourage someone today?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the children to try to encourage at least one person in school during the day.

Dear God,
Thank you for all our gifts and talents.
Thank you that we can all help other people in some way.
Please help us to be encouragers.
Please help us to make the world a happier place for those around us.


When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: September 2019   (Vol.21 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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