Encouragement is such a powerful tool that is readily available to all, and yet so few seem to recognize its powerful benefits. I am in the process of writing a book about leadership lessons I learned in my childhood, specifically from my grandmother. There will be an entire chapter on encouragement. It seemed to me that she possessed a Ph.D. in encouragement. If you make your job to be an encourager you will never be unemployed!
The writer of the book of Hebrews said: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
He asks us to consider how we can cheer each other on toward love and good deeds. When was the last time you cheered someone on in this race of life? It is easy to get caught up in what is happening in our lives and forget there are people around us who need someone to “spur” them on.
- People are discouraged. They are discouraged for a host of reasons. You and I have the medicine that can soothe their soul, a word of encouragement, start dispensing encouragement immediately.
- People feel stuck. An encouraging word for them today could be to remember: It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop!
- People are lonely. Another reason for encouragement is to let people know they are not alone.
- Encouragement helps me. I have discovered that when I take the time to talk with someone or send a note, regardless of what it does for the other person, I feel better.
In the Hebrews passage he instructs us to not forsake the getting together for worship. The context is the community of faith. The overarching idea is that isolation is not what God intended. During these days of social-distancing we can still be together. One thing that will keep us together is the super-glue of “encouragement.”
The human mind hangs on to negative thoughts. A fifth-grade classroom incident is still in my memory bank. It has hung around my mind all of these years. I can also remember at just the right time throughout life when someone sent a card, I received a phone call, or in a conversation, someone gave me an encouraging comment. These have also stayed with me down through the years as well.
One of the things that I am seeking to work on this year, is to purposely encourage three people each day. At times, it is in person or a call, and often it is a note delivered electronically. I am not sure if it has helped anyone, but I can say for certain that has helped me in a few ways:
- To encourage others reminds me that life is not all about me.
- To be an encourager is to counter-act all of the self-appointed critics.
- To encourage others is a way to soothe the hurts that happen in this world.
- To encourage others reminds me that we are better together.
- This process has reminded me of how difficult life is for many and that all of us can make a difference and be of help.
There is another memory I have of trying my best and being screamed at by a person I had confidence in and had always respected. The incident left me reeling. Robert Fulghum has a quote that came to mind: “Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…” Throughout my childhood, I was instructed not to listen to the mean things people say after all, “sticks and stones…but words will never harm me.” Words harm, they do real debilitating damage! After the person stormed out of my presence, finishing his screaming and name-calling. I was trying to process what had just happened. A person nearby said: “Nothing they said changes what I think of you, but what they said has changed what I think of them.” I know it does not seem like a big deal. My friend’s words of encouragement at a low time have ministered to me from that point until now.
Words do matter! Why not join me in joining the ‘encouragement club.’ The discouragement club has a waiting list anyway. Someone today needs to hear from you.