It may seem like I’m oversimplifying, but think about the most encouraging person in your workplace. The most encouraging person at your church or in your neighborhood. Have they changed your life? Do you remember specific encouraging things they’ve said to you? Do you seek them out so you can spend more time with them? If they’ve changed your life with encouragement, they are changing others too.
When I was teaching theatre, I had my students do observations. They had to watch people and record anything they observed. They used these observations to make their characters on stage more believable. I always warned them though. Once you become an observer, it’s a hard habit to break. I think that’s true about encouraging. Once you become an encourager, it gets easier and easier to find the good in others. And that’s a habit you won’t want to break.
I love this definition because it gives me three clear steps to encourage others. And there's nothing I love more than a three-step plan.
1. Give support. I’ve talked about this before. Check out my blog entry called Here’s Your Help. Encouragement starts with meeting people’s needs right where they are. If your friend is struggling through a difficult circumstance, you can lighten that load so she can see a way out. I still remember all the friends who delivered hot meals to us after we had our babies. We were sleep-deprived and I was healing from giving birth and having friends meet my needs in that moment was so encouraging.
2. Give confidence. This is not false confidence. BEING AN ENCOURAGER DOESN’T MEAN BEING A LIAR OR EVEN AN EXAGGERATOR. True encouragers aren’t phony. People can spot a flatterer or a disingenuous encourager from a mile away. You may need to look deeper into someone’s life to offer encouraging words. It means getting to know people better and seeing the good in them. It also means seeing the potential in them. You can probably remember a coach or teacher who saw potential in you and continued to remind you of your potential until you believed it. Don’t tell me that person didn’t change your world.
3. Give hope. Giving hope is the reason we encourage. We live in a world where hope is lacking. So many of our friends feel stuck, scared and well, hopeless. Go back to the last time you felt truly hopeless. I pray you’re not feeling that way now. It often takes someone speaking truth into that situation and letting the person know there is hope. As Christians we find our hope in Jesus. As you encourage, don’t forget to tell people the source of your hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.
Allow your faith to be the source of your encouragement. When I’m disconnected from God, encouragement is not my natural response. In fact, when I’m disconnected, my natural response is to want to criticize or gossip. I need to ask the Holy Spirit daily to change my heart and guide me to those who need encouragement most.
Warning! Being an encourager changes everything. Once you are in the habit of seeing the good and potential in others, you will be a peacemaker. You will understand others more deeply. You will feel a lot. Your heart may break for others. It'll be hard, but know it's God refining you to make you more like Him. He's making you into an encourager. He's making you into the kind of person He can use to change the world.