“Everyone has the potential to become an encourager. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be to be a genius. You don’t have to have it all together. All you have to do is care about people and initiate.” – John C. Maxwell
I had spent a whole half hour cleaning my room at the request of my parents. For the six-year-old me, working for a half hour on anything was a tremendous accomplishment, and I had given it my best effort – I could not wait to announce to my parents, “I’m done!”
I imagined my parents would say, “Wow! You’ve been a busy girl! Just look at how all of those stuffed animals are artfully arranged on your bedspread!” I was so proud of my efforts I could barely wait for my parents to come in and see my amazing accomplishment.
Well, my uncle walked in my room first and said, “Oh my, you missed that sock under your bed!” In a flash the feeling of joy and accomplishment was smashed, and I learned a lesson on the power of words to encourage or discourage us. Moments later, my mom walked in and said, “Your room looks great. I have a sock under my bed too. I bet it matches the sock you have.” Of course, this was not the first or the last time I learned words are powerful.
God’s Word is clear that one of the primary responsibilities as followers of Jesus Christ is to always be encouragers. We will not find a time when scripture admonishes believers to speak words that are meant to discourage fellow believers or even unbelievers.
While Job was in painful despair not one of his “friends” spoke a word of encouragement.
And in Chapter 16 he had all their “help” he could take and replies to them:
16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
There it is- the amazing power of words to encourage, the soothing potential of words of comfort from our lips.
In the New International Version of Acts there are nine examples which show the vital importance of encouragement in the growth of new believers and ultimately the health of the New Testament Church.
Paul writes in Colossians, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,” (Colossians 2:2)
And when the people at Thessalonica were struggling Paul wrote, “ Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing… encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (I Thessalonians 5:11,14)
Our words of encouragement can renew those with strength when courage may be fading. Our words of encouragement can calm and soothe those who are struggling and hurting.
Yet it is in Paul’s Letter to the Romans that we are reminded of the most powerful effect of encouragement. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 NIV)
You see, the real purpose of encouragement is to generate and cultivate HOPE.
The unique ministry of The Salvation Army has always been to spread HOPE. We are called to be God’s instruments of encouragement to all people He puts in our paths.
Your challenge this week is to be an encourager!
Focus on the stuffed animals being artfully arranged on the bedspread not the sock left under the bed.
written by Hope Bradley Hnat, Territorial Director of Advancement, USA East