What is one thing that you could give everyone you meet? Old friends, new friends, ancient friends, young friends–happy friends or sad friends? This gift never expires, never goes out of usefulness. It doesn’t take up shelf space, nor does it go bad and fill up the land fill. The package can be as unique as the person. This gift can literally change lives. Without it many wither, but with it most flourish. What is this amazing gift?
It is the gift of encouragement. The interesting thing about the gift of encouragement is turns our eyes from ourselves and onto others. Learning to become an encourager seems to be easier for some than for others. The good news is that everyone can become an encourager. It is a powerful gift that helps in our family life, our work life and in the kingdom life.
Encouragement gives us energy to complete a task or objective. It can help change our perspective about ourselves and others. It can help restore our self-confidence when we are beginning to self-doubt. I read a story yesterday about a man who stopped by McDonald’s for the first time during Covid. As he paid for his order he noticed the young man’s wrists had several cuts. When the young man handed him his order he began to speak encouragement to him. This gentleman was so burdened by this young mans condition he pulled over into the parking space and began to pray for him. A few minutes later the young man ran over to his car and thanked him. He said it was the first words of hope he had been given in four years. He felt seen. He felt heard and he gave his life to Jesus that day. The power of encouragement is real.
To really use this gift to its full potential we need to turn our focus outward. We can’t stay selfish or self-oriented, we must become others centered. Jesus always looked outward. I believe the Holy Spirit will help us become more sensitive to the needs of others as we ask him to help us have eyes to really see. We will become aware of body language, nuances in tones of voices, or word choices that will clue us in on others needing encouragement. We must slow down and become better listeners.
Why do we struggle in this area? Sometimes we don’t know what to say. Sometimes we may judge that the person already knows that they are doing a good job, so why would they need us to affirm them? Maybe we are afraid they will become prideful. I have found that words of encouragement, when given from a sincere heart are never inappropriate. There is a difference between flattery and encouragement. Encouragement is given to build up the other person, flattery is given to get something from the other person. Checking our motives helps us stay in on track. We must give this gift from a heart of love and compassion with sincerity, humility and honesty.
Parents, acknowledge when your children are doing things right–especially those whose love language is words of affirmation. Be patient when they are learning something new. Encourage those small steps. Spouses encourage each other when you are struggling as a couple–we will get through this. Come on team mate, we can do this!
Choosing to be encouraging during times of strife, instead of accusing takes definite will power and restraint, but it can yield much better fruit. If you remember words are like seeds, they grow what you plant it is easier at times to plant words of encouragement versus words of discouragement.
For those of us who use Social Media–take the time to post a comment on somebody’s post that is encouraging to you. Ask the Lord to show you who to encourage this week, leave a note on their page. Encourage your pastor and leaders, your boss, your wife or husband with something you noticed. Speak words of life to your children–that will help them through this struggling time.
Worry weighs a person down, but encouraging words cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25