Encouraging someone is to infuse courage in them by saying and doing things that build them up.
Here are five tangible things you can do this week:
- openly speaking positively and loving to your spouse in front of your kids to model proper behavior
- telling a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance how awesome you think they are
- leaving a note of gratitude for someone with specific examples of what they do that makes you thankful for them
- praying with someone when they share a problem with you
- writing notes with Bible verses included and giving them to people who need them
While these are tangible and effective, please understand that true change can only be noticed in someone else if we are encouraging them with consistency. We cannot simply check off one of the above tasks and call it quits. It might help them in the moment, but long term results is what we should be aiming for.
Ongoing readiness to offer help is encouraging.
People shouldn’t have to face challenges alone – and if you’re in the position to help – do it. Offer someone the rest they need. Offer the gift of grace to someone even if you feel like they “don’t deserve it”. Be a place of safekeeping for their emotions.
Have a positive attitude. Don’t encourage someone as though it’s a burden….do it because you genuinely want to.
They may feel humbled or uncomfortable at first, but they will soon feel grateful, less overwhelmed, and…..encouraged!
Be tender, patient, and consistently supportive. Speak to that person with love and empathy. Then – once they feel heard – begin to coach them as if they’ve already succeeded. They will feel celebrated, empowered, and ready for next steps.
Keep this Bible verse (Col. 4:6) in mind, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
If you’re encouraging your spouse or children, understand what kind of encouragement they need. Is it a big bear hug with tons of praise and adoration? Or is it silence, a touch, and an empathetic smile?
If you’re encouraging a stranger or an acquaintance you don’t know too well, read them and respond appropriately for the situation.
Here’s a quick example from my personal life:
After boarding the flight anxiously awaiting to go on my honeymoon, a fifty-year-old woman boarded (clearly flustered) as she tried to shove her carry-on in the overhead space. After the third time it fell, she kicked her suitcase and threw her hat at me in frustration.
She plopped down beside me yelling over and over again, “My trip to Aruba is completely ruined! This is ridiculous, I’ve had to switch different flights due to delays and now my husband and I can’t sit together!”
This was the moment I decided I was in a position to help, so I took a chance and lightly touched her shoulder as if to say, “I don’t know you but I know you need a dose of grace and encouragement right now and I can offer that.”
Her reaction wasn’t awkward like I expected. She wasn’t confused that a stranger was touching her……..she was encouraged.
She began to weep and tell me the root of her problems. It wasn’t about the suitcase or the flight changes. She’d just found out that her husband was having an affair, and wanted this trip to help mend their marriage. After listening to her and allowing her to be upset, I spoke softly and actually got to pray over her. She put in her headphones and fell asleep shortly after the prayer.
As the plane landed, she gave me a quick hug and whispered “thank you” and I never saw her again.
I tell you this story because after I had this experience, I had an epiphany…..
If a total stranger could benefit from my encouraging actions/words, how much more does my sphere of influence need it?!
Now I look for opportunity. I truly notice others. It’s a privilege and an honor to connect and help God’s people.
Although I fail daily, I try to follow this verse (Eph. 4:29) as it gives me great perspective when approaching others, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Let me know who you want to encourage this week in the comments section below!