Give the gift of encouragement this year. The world needs it. Desperately. And not according to the world’s standards, or even your own— give according to Scripture’s standards.
ENCOURAGE. In the dictionary? To give someone support or confidence. Easy, right? But according to Scripture? Encouragement is to make bold, to hold, to make resolute, to sustain or strengthen… literally to “put courage into.” That is next level stuff.
I know that can be tough sometimes when people are exhausting, trying, and testing the Jesus in you. I know it feels like encouragement would be a whole lot easier to give… if it were going to be returned. It doesn’t matter. Not at Christmas! This is the season of grand loving gestures and unreciprocated generosity!! (Just ask Jesus.) Plus, it’s FREE 99!! It costs you nothing except time and words. Nobody needs another gift card for coffee or pair of fuzzy socks anyway.
We have become so calloused and guarded as a society, we don’t even know how to properly give or receive actual ENCOURAGEMENT. We are so routinely dosed by culture and media with phony substitutes, platitudes, and ego stroking approval that we actually bristle at sincere affirmation or let our eyes roll like Sister Schubert.
Encouragement can’t always be easily packaged compliments or wrapped in special occasion toasts and times. Sometimes encouragement is best given after near or total meltdowns, fits of frustration, on days that are defeating and deflating. Friend, people need it most on those days and in those moments. When all is wrong and nothing is right, the very words out of your mouth have the power to rescue and redeem. Or wreck and ruin.
Did you know that encouragement actually changes your brain? The brain actually lights and fires differently when receiving encouragement, bringing to life greater processing in places of wisdom. And those places that come to life? It is the seat of other-centered thinking, of patience, and of optimism. Encouragement puts you literally “in that frame of mind” rather than knee-jerk jerkiness.
Friend— those life-giving words will almost never be found in simply recognizing an aesthetic or ability. Nobody has ever been given strength to carry on in the face of humiliation or insecurity–by receiving a mere compliment. Huh uh. That’s not your role. Leave that fluff to squads or squires.
You are MOM, you are DAD.
You are HUSBAND, you are WIFE.
You are FRIEND. You are SALT and LIGHT.
Your words have real weight and authority.
Especially when your words are repeating HIS WORDS.
Here’s some ways to encourage others. Keep in mind– Encouragement looks and sounds like ME speaking TRUTH with conviction TO YOU and ABOUT YOU (or about HIM but we will save that for another day.)
-CALL OUT promise, purpose, and potential in someone. Call it out loudly and confidently, not because they are so amazing right now… but because GOD IS SO FAITHFUL.
-CALL OUT the glimpses you see of Christ working in them… the moments of grace or gratitude they manage to summon.
-CELEBRATE the hard things they endeavor, even if success didn’t follow.
-CELEBRATE efforts and attempts at fruits of the Spirit, like patience, kindness, self-control, peace, etc.
-REMIND others of how precious they are to you, to your family, and to GOD.
-REMIND others of who they are in HIS eyes, especially when they aren’t seeing it, feeling it, or looking it to many others.
-BE SPECIFIC… I love that you_____ I am so proud of you for _______ Hey, I noticed that you _______.
-ENLIST OTHERS to your army of encouragement.
This is the “this is what God loving YOU looks like, now model that for others” strategy. Don’t you know your Heavenly Father gives you infinitely more grace? Don’t you have some to spare?
Look at the world we are functioning in. What a broke down mess it is. The world outside offers less light and more darkness, depression, and defeat, presented in the most accessible and appealing wrappings and trappings. Everything we see all day and night, whether on social media, at school or work, breeds insecurity, uncertainty, and apathy. You can’t give enough high fives or attaboys. The people are parched, and you know the way to the well. A lack of encouragement makes us susceptible to be hardened by the lies of sin. That goes double for young people, and you got the cure, Buddy. Give liberally!
Encouragement is absolutely necessary. It IS ESSENTIAL. Which is why God has commanded it FOR HIS PEOPLE and BY HIS PEOPLE. There WILL be trouble, suffering, and persecution. The way of the Lord IS HARD but doable in His strength, with His grace… and with the ENCOURAGEMENT HE PROVIDES US THROUGH OTHERS.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thes. 5:11
Hey Friend, HE overcame the grave. Anxiety and angst don’t stand a chance. Now start acting like you believe that. Start speaking life into others as though lives depend on it. Because they do. God commands it. Now you know it, and your obedience is not at all associated with the world’s appreciation of it.
Find the time. Say the words. Feel foolish. Let people roll their eyes and dismiss it, in fact determine today that “awkward” is the prize you’re hunting and refuse to stop short of that weird moment where you have dug deep, spoken life into someone’s very being… and they just look at you like a line eyed emoji. Yessir….VICTORY.