I’ve really enjoyed watching the William Anelay workers outside my office lay the stones for the new Minster Plaza. They’ve taken many months to complete this phase of the work, and they’ve done a quality job. Getting the levels right has not been straightforward and many stones have had to be cut and individually shaped so as to fit perfectly. Then every piece has been carefully placed with meticulous care. It’s reminded me that there is, and always will be need for the craftsman.

I recently read a fascinating interview with Bill Amberg, a leather craftsman who runs Bill Amberg Studio. He’s extremely good at what he does and creates high-end leather interiors and products for private clients whose names we’ve read about in glossy magazines. As I read I wondered how he got started and became so good. Here’s what he said:

‘I used to make my sister and my mum horrible leather things when I was about 10 years old. They were little things hole-punched and stitched with string, which were meant to be wallets and bags, but I don’t think anybody would have ever put anything in them.’

But he goes on to say how ‘My mum and dad were great encouragers of making anything’ and how his parents played a crucial role in praising him and helping him use his latent creative gifts.

It got me thinking about how human beings need encouragement. Especially children. So I read a bit of the interview last week to my eleven year old son, Isaac and we talked about making things and how we can begin young. It obviously got him thinking as he said, ‘I might like to do something like that’. Whether he’ll end up being a skilled craftsman or not is another matter, but I certainly want to try to be the kind of father who encourages his children – who praises them and tells them to keep going, especially when they are having a go at something that at first doesn’t look very good! After all, isn’t that how I learned most things?

I also want to be the kind of person who encourages not just my children but others too. That’s something disciples are supposed to do. That’s why the bible says: ‘Encourage one another and build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11) – because we grow and develop and thrive in life as we are built up by others.

We need to encourage. Especially the children.

So look out today for someone who needs a pat on the back, a smile, a thank you, a ‘well done’. Someone who is having a go and trying. You may be all the encouragement they need to keep going. Who knows. Thanks partly to you, they may one day be a master-craftsman.