Apr 4, 2013

How I Was Wrong About Encouragement


I'm not really an Encourager.

I can sometimes encourage people, but I wouldn't say that I'm one of those people who are totally gifted with that ability.  You know who I mean, right? The ones that we like to be around because they seem to know just what to say and how to say it and we usually aren't afraid to open up to them because they'll probably respond positively. 

I used to think encouragement was pretty low on the Totem Pole of Spiritual Gifts.  It's easy to say nice things, right? To smile and hug and flatter. It was much harder and more important to do things like tell the truth or teach or serve.

But I was wrong about encouragement. Wrong about Encouragers.

Its not hard to look at the word and see that it means en- (to put in) -courage (strength). So real encouragement is that: giving strength where there is weakness and vulnerability. 

The most encouraging people in my life have been the ones who have (1) noticed and cared about a deeper part of me and (2) spoken a God-truth into that place and made me feel brave.

That's no easy thing to do.  

The real Encouragers are the ones who somehow have eyes to see these soft spots in people, these soft spots in the Church, and then have the wisdom and guts to speak up.  To go beyond themselves for the sake of imparting strength to another.

And my thought is this: the Encouragers need encouragement to keep encouraging. 

It takes a little bravery and sometimes even sacrifice to encourage someone.  

A few weeks ago, a woman invited me to lunch just for the sake of encouraging me. (She is most definitely an Encourager, with a capital E!) We were strangers but I am where she has been and she knew the vulnerability of that place. We ate Thai food and talked and I received the bravery that she wanted to give me.

It wasn't until just recently, weeks later, that I even thought to say, hey... thank you for that.

Has someone encouraged you recently? Has anyone shown you a special love or appreciation that made you feel just a little bit stronger?

I say let's return the favor. 

Let the Encouragers know that their gift matters deeply in the Body of Christ and in this world.  

Cause God knows we need 'em. 

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7 comments:

  1. As someone working up to a career in counseling, this made me smile =D Knowing that my efforts have made a difference in someone's life is above all the most rewarding aspect of the work. It truly isn't about being thanked or praised or paid, it's about that feeling of helping someone to make a shift in their life and grow just another inch, then another, then another. We always hope that that's what we're doing by reaching out, but it's always such a gift to hear it said aloud. On that subject, let me say that I always find your blog so inspiring and encouraging, so thank YOU for all that you do! Best wishes =D

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    1. Wow - thank you, Adijicio!

      And you're so right. It's really not about wanting praise for ourselves, but just about being reminded that what we're doing is good and right. So I think when we encourage the Encouragers (and Counselors!) in our lives, we are feeding that gift in them.

      Thanks for your sweet comment, hope to "see" you around again!

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  2. As you know, I'm not much of an encourager either. I also don't receive encouragement well which might be as discouraging to them as someone not receiving truth from the Truth tellers. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate the Encouragers.

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    1. We may not be natural Encouragers but you are definitely an encouragement to me, friend. ;)

      But I like how you put it: encouraging = truth telling. And how much have we talked in Bible Study about the power of positive prophecy in our lives??

      I was just thinking about the times I'd received it but not really let someone know how they influenced me, but I wonder how often my own junk and baggage gets in the way of not even being open to receive it at all. And if someone was trying to step out and be encouraging to me, that might actually *discourage* them from trying again with someone else. Siighh... it's so important that we train ourselves to be more aware and sensitive as we engage with people!

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  3. Hey from SA :) oh my word...! just got done reading 'wear your word' and u know how at the end u ask 'what's your word'... i thought about it...but wasn't sure...and not brave enough anyway to 'pick a word'...then read this post and i remembered...I AM AN 'ENCOURAGER'... i seem to have neglected this gift a little... thanks for bringing it into focus for me... i plan to remedy this decay as of now ! C

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    1. Wow! So you are one of the brave ENCOURAGERS! Girl, we need you and your gift :) Stay in touch- I'm going to be focusing on my word, as well, and trying to figure out what it means to live it! Thank you for letting me know that this spoke to you, friend :)

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  4. Love this! I read your words this morning and they have been, for lack of a better term, stewing in my mind all day. As a result, I've been intentional with my encouragement in a couple of situations today, and so I want to say thank you for challenging me to be obedient and aware of those who might need a word. But also, I want to say thank you for reminding me that there's power in being the encourager, just as much as being encouraged - it's strength imbibed as well as given. You can't speak truth to someone else without also speaking to your own heart. Keep it up, my writer friend. :)

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