Have you ever faced a situation when you absolutely felt like quitting? You gave it your best shot. You worked, you prayed, and you determined to make something happen; but just when you were ready to give up, someone came by and said something to you. And what they said gave you the courage to hold on and eventually succeed. That’s an encourager.
There are people – a very limited, select group in the world–who seemingly know how to say exactly the right thing at the right time. They make you believe in yourself or hold on long enough to accomplish what you originally wanted to do.
“Encouragement,” says Doug Fields, “is a constant YES in a world that says NO!” Our English word “encourage” is derived from the French cour, which means “heart!” If ever a man knew what beats you down in life, Paul, the apostle, was such a man. He knew how to give encouragement and also had the broadness of heart to know how to receive it as well.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Following a tough journey to Rome, when Paul was shipwrecked, three brothers heard Paul was coming and went to meet him. Luke says, “At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15).
Why are there so few people who have the largeness of heart to know how to encourage others? Is it a special gift reserved for some, or can we overcome our reluctance and insecurity to encourage others?
Interested in learning how to be an encourager? You can, but there are some roadblocks, with tentacles like an octopus reaching back to childhood, that have to be overcome. Such as:
1) Insecurity. Many people hide behind sarcasm when they give a compliment, actually dragging down the very person they would like to affirm. Insight: You’ve got to overcome your own insecurity before you can be an encourager. How? Make a statement of encouragement that is positive, straightforward, and without qualification. Instead of saying, “You did a pretty good job for someone who always stumbles over his words,” say, “Your comments were really helpful.” Sarcasm is harmful. It never makes anyone feel better. It cuts to the heart.
2) Inability. Perhaps you grew up in a home where nobody ever complimented anybody for anything. Maybe you were the victim of verbal and, possibly, physical abuse. You were told what you didn’t do right, but never told how well you did anything. As an adult, you will tend to do the same thing. Encouragement is a decision, a choice which you make.
3) Ignorance. How important is it for parents to affirm the worth of their children? Very important. How important is encouragement for adults? Your encouragement may be the big difference between success and failure in the life of your husband or wife, or friend. Some people honestly don’t know how to be an encourager to someone. If you want to be an encourager, begin noticing what people do well. Tell them.
4) Selfishness. Our own egos compel us to build ourselves up, often by tearing someone else down, but encouragement builds the other up, demonstrating true greatness in a person’s life.
5) Carelessness. “I always meant to tell him how much he meant to me.” But you waited until you heard the news of his death. It was too late. The time to encourage someone is now. As Paul wrote, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5) “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
In this world of constant NO, will you be the YES of encouragement to someone today?
Resource reading: Romans 15:1-6