E is for…Encouragement
by Shelly Burke
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thess. 5:11
One thing I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older (more “mature”) is that even the most confident-appearing, fashionably dressed, perfect-hair-day-every-day person is insecure in some way.
The person who (to my eyes) gives brilliant answers in Bible class worries that people will think she’s “dumb” or “talks too much.”
The member of the choir who sings beautifully? Fears that others will think she is “showing off”.
And the “everyday” people? The mom who takes her kids to church thinks her kids are “too loud” during the sermon.
The quiet elderly man in Bible Class? Terrified to ask a question (which happens to be a question I’ve thought about for years).
Everyone—even the most confident-appearing people—needs and appreciates encouragement. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs the Thessalonians, and by extension, us, to encourage each other “just as you are doing.” Paul doesn’t provide a list of things the people had been doing, so I think they were simple, every day things—probably things you have been doing or can easily start doing, in order to “encourage and build one another up.”
*Tell the harried mom whose kids kept her busy during church, “I’m so glad you’re here! I know it’s a challenge, but it’s worth it to get your kids to know God.”
*Thank the pastor, choir director, soloist, education director, organist, secretary, Bible Study leader, your co-workers or boss, for what they do. So often we are touched and encouraged by what they do…but we forget that they need encouragement too.
*Ask someone you know is going through a difficult time, “How are things going?” The person may answer with just a few words—or you might hear a detailed accounting of the last few days. Either way, you’ve showed that you care. You don’t have to have the “right” words—just listen and, if appropriate, tell her you are praying for her.
*Give a hug “just because.”
*Text a Bible verse to your kids or a friend facing a difficulty.
*Pray…for your family, for friends, for acquaintances if you know they are facing a tough decision or hard time. You do not have to know the details; ask God to bless the person and care for and provide for him or her as the person needs. God knows the details!
*Send someone a card of encouragement and include a Bible verse that is specific to his or her situation.
*Surprise a friend or acquaintance—with a flower, treat, or something they’ve mentioned needing or wanting, like a book, a CD, or scented lotion.
*Give anonymously or to a stranger. Pay for the purchase of the car behind you in the fast-food drive through. Ask the cashier to apply the change from your purchase, to that of the person behind you in the check-out line. Wish the cashier a nice day. Smile at the person who looks lonely; take a few minutes to chat about the weather or what you’re making for supper.
A wonderful "side effect" of encouraging others is that you will immediately feel better about yourself and your life. God Himself encourages us through His Word and the people He puts in our lives. Share His love and encouragement by passing on that love and encouragement to those whose lives you touch.
Lord, thank You for encouraging me through Your word. Please, help me to show your love by encouraging and lifting others up. Amen.