Your encouragement may make the difference between someone giving up or pressing on. When it comes to doing what God has called us to do, we need to press on. Quitting is not a good option. The world needs people who will step out to do what God has put on their hearts and to put themselves out there in efforts to make a positive difference in our world.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
Constant encouragement will keep the heart tender and responsive to God. Yet discouragement often leads to a hardening, deception, and sin, as we see in the Scripture above (when you study the inverse).
People who do not know how to plow through discouragement will find themselves: 1) Hardened. 2) Deceived. 3) Bound to sin.
When you are discouraged, you are like a boxer in the ring with broken arms—you cannot block or punch. You are basically a punching bag. This is why it is so important not to be discouraged and to always be encouraged, and not to discourage others but rather to encourage others.
Before we speak, we should ask ourselves, “Would this be encouraging?” If so, release it! Don’t worry about them getting a big head, because chances are, there are probably thousands of reasons for them to feel insecure and discouraged—they can use all the encouragement that they can get.
I think a lot of us are how Jeremiah was. When God tells us that He wants us to step into what He has for us, we feel quite unqualified.
“‘Ah, Lord GOD,’ I said, ‘I surely do not know how to speak, for I am only a child!’” (Jeremiah 1:6)
So look how God doesn’t discourage him and say, “Yeah, you aren’t cut out for it. You would totally fail. You are lame! I’m sorry I even asked — I mean what in the world was I thinking…your right, you aren’t even eloquent…”
Rather, we see how God encouraged him:
“But the LORD told me: ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ For to everyone I send you, you must go, and all that I command you, you must speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)
Here is a beautiful template for how to encourage others.
- MOVE SOMEONE GET PAST THEIR FEARS INTO THEIR CALLING AND POTENTIAL.
- LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU HAVE THEIR BACK AND YOU WILL SUPPORT THEM.
I believe that is one of the most encouraging things we can do for someone else. Just encouraging them to not listen to their fears, and let them know that we are with them, that we have their back.
I remember reading a story about a young teenager and he was asked to pray in front of the whole church. He got so nervous he started praying somewhat heretical things. Not intentionally—he just froze.
He expected someone to come and sit him down and correct him out of his loose theology. Yet, an older man whom he respected just came over to him and put his arm around him and said, “Whatever you do to step out for God, just know, I got your back.”
That deeply encouraged the young man, and he eventually became a globally recognized speaker. And he still credits that older man for helping him to find the courage he needed to keep putting himself out there for God. We have no idea how far our little encouragement can go! Now, empty promises and flattery is not encouraging, but someone’s affectionate love and resilient commitment to you, is.
In college, I was on track to be a history teacher. As a teenager, I had big dreams to lead a ministry and make a huge impact. Yet by the time I was in college, those dreams had already been shattered. Discouragement took the wind out of me.
But whenever people would ask me to do something, like share a devotional or speak somewhere, I would say yes. During that time, two men really encouraged me to pursue vocational ministry. They saw something in me that I no longer saw in myself.
One of those men was one of the overseers of my university’s Mexico outreach that I had participated in. The other was a pastor, who eventually offered me a job. I am indebted to their encouragement. Not that being a history teacher is any bit inferior for someone else, but I believe their encouragement gave me the courage I needed to do what God had called me to do in the first place.
I wonder why we don’t encourage people as much as we can?
It’s free. It only takes a few seconds. Yet, why don’t we do it more?
Why did the writer of Hebrews need to remind them to encourage each other daily? I think it’s because it takes effort. It means you must take your focus off of yourself for a bit (which can’t be a bad thing, by the way). So we are distracted by self. Preoccupied, perhaps. Lazy, maybe?
Or, do we not want to see others thrive and succeed? Does someone else’s advancement make us feel “less than”?
The other day, my daughter was playing basketball with her cousin, who has a good five inches on my daughter. Her cousin was able to make a basket, while Eden could barely get the ball to touch the net. She tried and tried and then cried and cried.
I knew Eden did not yet have the strength to get the ball into the basket (even though it was drastically lowered from official height regulation). So the second her cousin made the basket, I knew Eden wouldn’t take it too well. I spent the next 10 minutes just trying to encourage Eden and explain that just because someone is good at something doesn’t mean you need to feel bad about yourself. I was sharing with her all the things she does well, and just encouraging her not to give up.
However, I wonder how we truly feel about someone else’s success—does it make us feel happy or shameful?
If we are still at the consciousness of a 5-year-old and we interpret someone’s win as our loss, we cannot be an encouraging person. We aren’t genuinely cheering people on; rather, we’re hoping they fail and fall.
I believe that your greatness ought to inspire me, not intimidate me. Your success can make me feel happy, not shameful. Therefore, I want to be someone who encourages you.
Now, correct me if I am wrong, but that cannot be the love that Jesus is calling His followers into. Love for others means you want the best for others! That makes us encouraging people, always. Love is the motivation for encouragement.
Where there is no love, kind flowery words are merely deception, hypocrisy, manipulation, flattery, and the strategies of a personal agenda. They are not encouragement. When those things are eventually exposed (and they usually are in time), it can be deeply discouraging.
Another possible reason we are not as encouraging as we can be, is that we don’t want to put ourselves out there.
What if we say or do something very kind and it is not well received? What if we are accused of being a flatterer? What if they think we have ulterior motives? What if they don’t respond or react, leaving us feeling rejected? What if they shoot it down, leaving us feeling, awkward? Yes, encouragement can be a tad risky. It takes courage to be encouraging.
The big question is, do we love people enough to take on these risks?
Also, we have to believe that the potential reward of someone else being encouraged through you is absolutely worth the risks of feeling dumb for a second. We may be helping them fulfill their divine calling! Let me put it like this: As you step out past your fears to encourage someone, you are helping someone else step out past their fears to be who they can potentially be! Let’s remember what one of the disciples of Jesus said, “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). May love prevail and fear be defeated.
Encouragement is my when my love dismantles your fears.
The insecure are too busy asking themselves, “What do they think about me?” That they don’t bother to ponder these questions, “Who can I encourage today? How can I encourage them?” When Paul wrote that “love is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5) he was saying that people who love will have enough bandwidth to think through how they can encourage someone else.
With this heart God has given me, I want to love. With this mouth God has given me, I want to encourage. May love drive us to figure out how to get better at encouraging others. This world really needs it. Especially right now.
Who can you encourage today?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We ought to be busy trying to figure out how we can encourage others. What a healthy use of our minds.
We can easily get caught up into self-seeking thinking, and be trying to figure out how we can get something from someone, with our words. Aren’t you tired of people who wants something from you? They have a motive or an agenda. They want your money, your connections, your allegiance, or even trying to fish a compliment out of you.
However, true encouragers are not trying to get something from you, rather get something to you. They are not manipulative with their words. Manipulation comes from a selfish heart. Encouragement comes from a loving heart.