“Encouragement is important business. It merits our careful attention, not only because Scripture tells us to think about it, but also because it represents the unique values of Christian fellowship.”
(Encouragement: The Key to Caring, preface. Dr. Larry Crabb & Dr. Dan Allender)
We have all been encouraged by someone, at one time or another. But how many of us take seriously the possibility that encouragement is our responsibility; to proactively reach out and encourage another? To actually look for opportunities to encourage? To ask God to point out someone HE wants us to encourage today?
You see, encouragement, for some, is a gift —a special way they have of cheering others up and on! But for others, it is hard work, involving stepping outside our natural spheres of comfort—to say or do something that will cheer another. For some, encouragement is something they receive from someone else—freely and gladly, without analyzing what took place. They simply move on, happier for having received it. Encouragement is not something they give to others—because they have never thought of themselves as an encourager.
Encouragement is a special way of being, and doing, in a world full of sick and hurting people, who so desperately need it! Encouragement can make life richer for you, and those around you, as you enlarge your world by becoming available to others.
Encouraging others is powerful stuff!
- It has the ability to motivate others to forge ahead against impossible odds, and win.
- It puts courage back into someone when they are facing times of uncertainty and fear, enabling them to continue.
- It incites us to believe the unbelievable.
- It empowers us to attain the unattainable.
- It refreshes the soul and restores joy to our hearts and minds—making us feel like we are walking on clouds, or that the sun shines down just for us!
Encouragement is important business for the Christian!
It is important because, when encouragement happens, the effects are long lasting–defeating the powers of darkness and helping someone overcome the junk the world hurls at them. Encouragement effects change–for some, to the point of changing their own personal history!
Encouragement motivates the receiver to put forth the effort necessary to determine a positive outcome. It urges one to do the right thing, when avoidance or running away would be far easier!
The day I ran away!
Let me illustrate this principle by sharing an incident that happened to me when one of our daughters was going through a teenage crisis. This is about the day I ran away!
Here’s what happened.
My husband and I were reeling from the effects of this daughter’s ‘declarations of independence!’ The scene we faced on that dark day goes like this.
Setting: Our dining room, one early Saturday morning.
Atmosphere: Tension—thick as molasses on a cold day. Silence—the brooding kind that teens are so good at!
Action: Weary from lack of sleep. Al and I sat on one side of the table. Arms crossed and sullen, she sat across from us. This daughter had sneaked out of the house during the night to attend a party that Al and I specifically agreed that she should not attend. She left without warning, and without leaving us a note, explaining her intentions or whereabouts. Taking advantage of the fact that we would be distracted by our dinner guests, she counted on this, and figured that we would not check in on her and discover she was missing, till morning, whereby she would be back in her room—fast asleep. To her, the plan was flawless. But, it did not happen the way she had planned.
My good husband headed to her room as soon as our company left, to see on how she was doing. To his surprise, he found her room empty! Frantic, we called her closest friends to see if they knew where she was. This proved futile.
After a sleepless night, we heard her sneak back into the house early the next morning. Now she was sitting in front of us! I was angry. Al was angry. She was angry. And we were all tired.
As with many teen-parent conflicts, the whole situation quickly escalated, ending with Al declaring her grounded for the rest of her high school career! She fled from the room screaming, “That’s not fair!”
Al stomped out of the room.
I grabbed my purse and ran from the house, declaring loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, “I’m leaving!”
Jumping into our mini-van, I sped away, ill prepared, yet determined, for a run-away day. Blinded by anger and frustration, I’d had it with this daughter! I’d had it with my husband. I was also scared! With three other pre-teens moving quickly into this warped and threatening season of life, I wasn’t sure I could cope. What kind of mother was I anyway!
Adolescence was just as frightening to me as it was to the Teens. I was overwhelmed! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I drove directly to the house of my friend, Joyce.
Joyce was one of my “encouragers”.
The moment she opened her door and smiled her warm greeting, my resolve to keep my emotions under check crashed into a million pieces. Joyce enveloped me in a loving embrace, and led me into her living room. I poured out my heart to her.
What took place in the next several hours was nothing short of a miracle. Before I arrived at her door, I was ready to abandon my responsibilities of motherhood. (In fact, I had actually spent a few vain moments thinking of feasible ways to do this!) I felt like a total failure.
What did Joyce do that was so miraculous?
- She listened to me without interrupting or trying to interpret my feelings.
- She wept with me—revealing her mother-heart and compassion.
- She shared God’s Word with me—revealing HIS heart for me, and this situation.
- She urged me to go back home and do the right thing.
- She prayed with me, and for me.
Slowly, reason returned to my troubled mind and heart. Without Joyce’s verbal encouragement, I would have given up! Something she said made me want to keep trying! It made me strong on the inside, and checked the critic inside my head that was telling me that I was a bad mother.
Before I left her home, I resolved to go back to my family; to keep on loving my daughter; to do what was right—even though I knew it would be tough! (And it was!) I resolved to continue serving my family in Christ’s strength, not my own. I had been encouraged.
Joyce used the God-given gift of encouragement-exhortation to infuse me with courage, and urge me to do what I knew was right. I was changed.
Yes, encouragement is important business!
Take a minute now, and pick up your journal and favorite pen. Find a quiet spot and reflect on the following–writing it out in your journal.
1. Finish this sentence, making it personal. “Encouragement is. . .”
2. Who, in your immediate sphere of influence, might be in need of your encouragement today?
3. How about calling that person, or sending them an email or text, letting them know you are thinking of them?
4. Let your tone express what words cannot. (Does your tone say, “I’m sorry that you are facing such a difficult situation, right now. It must really be tough. What has been the hardest part for you?”)
5. Offer to pray with them. (Prayer connects them with God, and reveals further your own caring heart.)
Thank you for reading this post today. If you know someone who might benefit from reading it—please share it. They may be waiting for just such an encouragement from you!
In my next post on Encouragement, I’ll introduce some practical ways each of us can become better ‘encourage-ers’. How Can I Become an Encourager? Our Biblical text will be: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.”(Hebrews 10:24-25)
Please come back! I look forward to reading your comments. If this post blessed you in some way, challenged your thinking—or even irked you, jot down a comment to me! Your perspective matters to me. And, I love hearing from my readers.
May God bless every effort you make to encourage another!