Life At Its Best: Be an encourager
Everyone loves encouragers. Wherever they go, they bring hope. Their positive spirits are both attractive and contagious.
This is one of the attributes I admire most in my wife. When I first started preaching, I'd always ask her what she thought of my sermons. Each time she'd respond with, "I think that was your best one yet."
Obviously, I knew some weeks weren't my best. As a perfectionist, I'd often grow discouraged by focusing on everything I needed to fix in order to get where I wanted to be. But my wife's constant reassurance helped keep me going. Her confidence in my potential as a pastor pushed me to continue pursuing the dream God put inside me.
We all need people like that in our lives. And we're all called to be that kind of person for others. There are people around us every day experiencing discouragement. They've begun to lose hope in the reality of God's promises. God has called us to help strengthen their hope.
Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another daily ... so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." God wants us to refresh others daily through our words and actions. In every season, we must continue to remind them of the truth and faithfulness of God's word. We must reassure them that, whatever their problem, his promise is bigger.
Encouragement can take many different forms. Sometimes it involves offering affirmation or uplifting words. This is the kind most of us like. Proverbs 16:24 says that gracious words are "sweetness to the soul and health to the body." They bring life and joy to those around us.
But, while they're certainly effective in strengthening others, we must be careful that they don't turn into shallow compliments or cliche words. That kind of encouragement often brings only temporary emotional satisfaction. And hope derived simply from emotion quickly fades. However, when our encouragement is based on the truth and promises of God's word, it brings real, lasting hope.
Sometimes our encouragement serves more as a motivational challenge. Hebrews 10:24 says, "Let us consider how we may spur each other on toward love and good deeds." We all need a little loving kick from time to time to keep us moving in the right direction. When we see others getting discouraged, we must remind them of the things God has called them to. We must push them to continue pursuing the dreams God has placed in their heart.
Encouragement is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. There are people that God has specifically called you to strengthen. Be careful not to offer words that provide only temporary relief. Instead, speak God's truth into their life as you strengthen their heart and help them move toward what God has for them.
Who do you know that is discouraged? Take time to hear their heart. Find scriptures and promises that will remind them of God's faithfulness in the areas they're struggling. Strengthen them daily through your words and actions. Be an encourager.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.