The courage to encourage
Encouragement: Who does not want it? Who does not thrive under it? This thing called encouragement is very powerful. It can lift up the lowly; make the failure to fly into the realms of success, the heartbroken to hope again, the weak to do things beyond themselves. We have all received encouragement at some point in our lives and have been the better for it. We can remember the people that gave us encouragement very distinctly. Those memories are etched in our minds and hearts forever. Many of us are doing the things we are today, only because somebody had the courage and cared enough to encourage that gift, that ability and see the diamond in the rough.
The question I ask myself is will I be that somebody for someone else? It takes courage to do that. Because encouragement it not flattery, it’s not glib talk, it’s not irresponsible words spoken. People cling to those words as it promises hope and a new future. So when we encourage we bring hope and kindle faith in a flagging heart.
There are many challenges that ones who encourages may face and those are challenges of the heart. We live in a world where criticism is rife; putting others down is the way up, envy and jealous rule the day and secrecy is the way to secure success. To spare a kind thought, word or deed is not a common practise these days. Often the outlook is “what’s in it for me?”
Here are some things I have been pondering on and some questions I would like to challenge myself with. Maybe you would like to reflect with me?
- · Am I willing to put myself out to encourage someone else and make them feel good about themselves? Can I look beyond my own nose? In order to encourage, I should practice being able to think of others better than myself. Sometimes my own pride gets in the way of encouraging someone else. It feels like giving ground to someone else. I need to practice humility and honouring others. (Rom 3:12, Phil 2:3) It’s not good enough to think the good thoughts in my head; it needs to be vocalized to the person who deserves the praise. Am I deliberately holding back praise from someone because of envy, jealousy or selfishness? Don’t we all remember being in situations where a lot of effort was put into something and no one even says a word of thanks? Let’s not do the same to others.
- · Am I willing to play the part of Barnabas (Acts 9:26)who brought Paul to the other Apostles. Paul went on to be one of the greatest Apostles who wrote so much of the New Testament. If Barnabas had not played his part I wonder how history would have panned out. He did a selfless thing. He did not promote himself. He had the courage to stick his neck out for the “the new kid on the block”. And you know what? Paul gets to be part of the Inner circle and Barnabas is left out in the cold – or that is how history gets recorded. We don’t hear of Barny anymore. (But you know, there is another perspective to all this. If I get caught up with recognition and affirmation from people alone, I will be left sorely disappointed and despondent. DON’T. People can be self absorbed and fickle. But there is one who sticks closer than a brother and who is faithful to the end. His encouragement is forever and with it comes rewards that are eternal. He is Jesus our Lord).
- · Am I ready for the person I lift up to go ahead of me? (Phil2:3) If my motives are clean it will not bother me, it will only make me glad. I remind myself of that final day of reckoning when the books will be opened and everything we have done will be tested by fire, I do not want to be found wanting .
- · For those of us who have received encouragement – go back to those who gave you a help up and thank them for the role they played in your life. Lack of gratitude is a bad thing.
- · Does envy and jealousy catche my throat and cause me to withhold the praise that is due? I need to repent and the only way to overcome it is to do the very opposite. I need to be profuse in my encouragement to the one I am envious or jealous off. It will take the sting away. Thank God for the talent/gift/ abilities God has blessed them with.
- · I should expect nothing in return – this helps clean up the motives. I will get my reward in heaven.
- · Am I afraid of encouraging someone else because they might then get noticed and get ahead of me? Do I believe in a sovereign God? Then I should be careful of manipulating circumstances. God can bring a man crashing down on his face in a day and exalt a man in a second. We have plenty an example in the Bible and the starkest one is that of Joseph – one of my own personal heroes. His brothers thought they could manipulate his destiny and keep him away from the lime light. But God worked things out where he got exalted way beyond anyone’s expectations of wildest dreams ( I don’t think Joseph knew his this was how his dreams would pan out)
I want to be the one who will be remembered for moving people forward and up and not manipulating people into the shadows and down.
When I do this my father in heaven is pleased, God is glorified, blessings come down and there is enough to go around for us all. So I want to encourage and thank those who have been sources of encouragement in my life.
Navaz D cruz