Thursday, August 30, 2012

We All Could Use a Little Encouragement!

On Monday, I posted a review of the book “Words That Hurt, Words That Heal” by Carole Mayhall. (There is also a pretty sweet giveaway at the end of that post, so hurry over there to enter if you haven’t already!) This book, which I read recently as part of my personal devotions, sparked a lot more thoughts and changes on my part than I could cover in a simple book review. I’m excited to address some of those thoughts today and gain some insight from you in an area that I am still working on improving.

Chapter 1 of this book briefly addressed the area of encouragement.

The author spoke of a brief conversation with her husband, in passing him on the stairs, that changed the outlook of the day for both of them. She speaks of talking with a well-known author who encouraged those around her. A neighbor encouraged her with some rolls and a simple note.

Perhaps the most challenging was this man’s quote:

“I don’t think I’ve had more than twenty minutes with Bob...and those have been in two- and three-minute snatches...but every time we’ve had a moment, he’s shared something with me that was just what I needed.”

Two or three minute snatches.

That isn’t a whole lot of time, folks. How am I spending my two or three minute snatches? In encouragement? Highly unlikely.

I was struck with the truth that encouragement doesn’t have to be a huge, out-flowing, public moment. . . Nor does it have to be limited to a thank you card. Encouragement can happen every day, everywhere we go, with every day people.

Truthfully, encouragement comes easier to some than to others. I do not always have an easy time with words - namely, speaking them out loud (they sound great in my head!) - so an actual spoken word of encouragement is harder for me. But there are ways to learn how to be an encouragement and use this gift practically in every day life.

Carole Mayhall says,

“At one point in my life I asked the creative God for some creative ideas as to how to be an encourager.”

The truth is, God doesn’t ask us to do anything without providing the means to do it. If we ask him to help us become an encourager, He will! He is a creative God that knows just what people need...and just we we need to know to make this a reality.

So I asked our creative God for some ideas, and He gave me these:

1. Seek personal encouragement from God’s word. What is in my heart will come out my lips...if there is something from God’s word that has helped me or encouraged me, I can pass it along to someone else.

2. Take advantage of small moments. No moment is too small or too insignificant!

3. Find something to praise the other person for. This may be the biggest encouragement, knowing that you have noticed something in particular and are thankful for it. I’ve tried this on my family, since they are whom I have the most contact with on a daily basis. I don’t have children of my own yet, but I try to put myself in my sibling’s shoes and remember when I was their age - what would have been encouraging to me? What things did I wish people would notice? Then, compliment them on that thing.

4. Smile! A simple smile can turn another’s frown upside down.

5. Pray that the Lord will give you someone specific to be an encouragement to on a regular basis.

6. Write letters. Just a newsy, how-are-you letter can let someone know they are not forgotten. We all love to get mail in any form!

7. Say thank you. We should all be thanking others for services done or gifts given, but do we thank others for small things? This is another area I’ve tried out on my family. It is their responsibility to do certain chores - for instance, sweeping the floor. Am I required to thank them for that service? It doesn’t seem so, since it is their “job.” But a quick, “thank you for sweeping that floor” could be an encouragement for them to keep doing a good job.

8. Buy the book, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal and read other suggestions from that author that I didn’t mention here. Or, enter the giveaway and try to snag a copy free! :)

These are just a few things the Lord has brought to my mind about encouragement. My prayer is that the Lord will use these things to turn me into an encourager, and that it will become a regular part of my life!

As I was thinking through and preparing this post, a friend of mine (oblivious to the fact that I was going to be posting on this subject) posted the following on Facebook:



THAT bit of encouragement is going to leave a big impression! :)

Now I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you can think of to be an encouragement to others? I’d love to add more to my list. How has encouragement had an impact on your life in the past? Do you feel you are a natural-born encourager, or do you have to work on it more?

For further reading you might enjoy this post or this post...both popped up in my reader while I was mulling over this topic. What a coincidence. :)


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