For those of you from Fellowship Friday 5, enjoy! I hope today’s post will be uh, encouraging!
encourage-to put courage in another person. (isn’t it helpful to know that it isn’t just making them happy?)
Encouragement, of course, is the act of encouraging.
How does one person encourage another?
For me, one of the first steps is to put myself in the other person’s shoes and remember. Remember those times when you had no courage.
- You didn’t think you could move forward one more step, you were physically done...
- or your failures were so overwhelming that you couldn’t lift up your head enough to look another person in the eyes…your shame was too great.
- or your loneliness was so overwhelming that your courage to face another person…for fear of more rejection or ridicule, was causing you to lose the little courage you had. STOP
When I remember the times I have needed courage, and either the wonderful people GOD brought along my path that did encourage me or the fact that at the time, I never had it…I am motivated to encourage others.
But what actually encourages another person?
That is a great question. That is what makes the act of encouraging so creative…and so dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit inside you…through His Word.
Because of the differences in temperament, life experience, life scars, the very things that encourage me, my encouragements may actually have the opposite effect on you! And that is what makes encouragement so difficult…and puts the encourager in a very vulnerable position!
In many ways, it can be very simple…done often in bits during conversations with friends. But that is part of the problem. With friends with whom we have a close relationship, we can often say things in verbal shorthand that can be deeply encouraging. Even through humor, we can encourage. Sometimes, we’re just cried out and humor helps us get a different perspective that keeps us laughing over days.
Saying the same things to someone we don’t know well may not be nearly as effective. I find there is also a huge difference between saying something in person when we have eye contact, and saying it online or on the phone when I can’t look into the other person’s eyes and see the effect my words are having.
And how do we give a portion of GOD’s Word as a gift of encouragement and not sound preachy? Some people will automatically take a Biblical quote as being preachy while others will not receive true encouragement if it is not stated in the form of a Bible verse! ARGH!
To say that encouragement takes wisdom, grace, discernment and love is something that can’t be denied. Encouragers can easily get scarred because their desire to comfort and encourage at a heart level has put them in a place where it is not received well. So as an encourager, I will tell you, “Scars can be painful, but they don’t kill us.”
It’s true that often, the most encouraging thing we can do is to sit with our arms around someone and cry with them. It’s also true that words may be needed…humble, true, life-giving words. That’s why we need discernment!
Most of the time, our appearing to know what GOD is doing in a certain situation is downright arrogant. There is just too much we don’t know about what He is doing! We have no clue what GOD is doing most of the time. We can make educated guesses at a few of the things He is doing. But all we can say is that those are just guesses.
And how many times has someone coming over and doing a few loads of laundry (my favorite to do) or cleaning a bathroom or working alongside of us as we take on an overwhelming project, been the encouraging thing? They can make you feel revived and energized…ready to face a new challenge!
So, are you an encourager?
Then go do it…write encouraging notes and messages, call people on the phone, send emails, texts, talk to people at your church and in your neighborhood. Be welcoming and encouraging to all, not just your favorite people!
And realize that encouragement comes in all forms. It may be married to the gift of helps…or not. It may be quiet. It will definitely be humble and loving. It will care for the one to be encouraged, not for herself. It may even be needed to give words of truth that for a time could be difficult to hear. So watch for your encouragers. They may not be in the places you expect them.
If your tendency is toward the negative as mine is, learn how to be more positive in the way you express yourself as an encourager. I was able to do it with lots of practice and people who helped me learn kindness in my wording. Sometimes I even find success!
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Sorry, this is not a topic I can write for only 5 minutes on…as you saw by how much time i wrote on it in 5 minutes. Encouragement is a much studied, loved and lived out topic for me. Please add your comments!