There are multiple possible answers to the question, “Who doesn’t need this?” What I want to suggest is everyone needs, wants, and appreciates encouragement. Some may say they don’t need it, and they may think they don’t, but I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating it when it is given. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, once made the point when he said, “How do you identify someone who needs encouragement? That person is breathing.”
I’ve thought about the idea of encouragement for many years and in my life have both received a lot as well as tried to give a lot. Looking back I think in my early years I received more than I gave, but in the last 25 years or so I think I have been more on the giving end. That makes sense because as we mature we realize just how important encouragement can be.
My interest in encouragement and desire to be even more intentional about encouraging has been intensified by a book I ordered and read last month entitled Encouragement. Written by Mark Chanski, this book greatly expanded my understanding of encouragement and how to encourage people. I love the sub-title Adrenaline for the Soul as it paints a picture of what encouragement does for people.
In the New Testament the Greek word sometimes rendered encourage or encourager can also be translated with a variety of other words. Jesus’ word for the Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel can be translated encourager. Other options include advocate (or counselor), helper, comforter, exhorter, and consoler. The core of all these options is that the one who encourages is someone who is called to stand beside and help another. (All this certainly describes the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.)
In Romans 12:8 the Apostle Paul lists encouragement as a spiritual gift some Christians have. John R.W. Stott notes the verb has “a wide range of meanings, ranging from encouraging and exhorting to conciliating or consoling” (Romans, pp. 327 and 328).
No Christian has all of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12, but that does not mean a believer who does not have the gift of encouragement should not be an encourager. I especially like Paul’s instruction to his readers in I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” After instructing them he practices what he is saying by encouraging them!
All of us should be encouragers, and we need to be honest encouragers. By honest I mean we should not mislead others with what we know are unrealistic expectations. Rather than encouraging, I think doing so may do just the opposite. (What a challenge for parents and grandparents as they cheer on their children and grandchildren!)
I close these thoughts with a quote from the 19th century influential English “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon, “It does people good to be told how highly we value them. There is many a Christian man and woman who would do better if now and then someone would speak a kindly word to them, and let them know that they had done well.”
Perhaps you and I can be more aware of the good it does when we speak such a word to others.
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Bob, What a great reminder to me to encourage one another. I am currently helping coach my grandsons basketball team. While the head coach is more demanding I feel that I can balance that by being the encourager. I need to be better in my interactions with people I encounter daily. Thanks for the great reminder and encouragement of your message.
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I enjoyed your post, and I have to say you have always encouraged me, especially as I think of the messages I have heard from you. Thanks friend.
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I may be wrong but there was a Youth Minister of mine who in a lesson about ENCOURAGING who said , when confronting the challenge of a parent with an ugly baby, what do you say? “Yes that’s certainly is a baby! “
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Bob, I certainly am appreciative of your encouragement and I thank you for it.