Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Be An Encourager

This week I found an unclaimed quote that said, “Flatter me and I may not believe you, criticize me and I may not like you, ignore me and I may not forgive you, but praise me and I will not forget you.”

There is something about praise and encouragement that, although we may find it hard to believe, permanently embeds it in our hearts.  

If ever there was a time that I needed to be encouraged, it was this week. Husband spent a few days in the hospital. I didn’t need someone to praise me for my swift cardiac assessment and intervention. I needed to be reminded that Jesus is still in the healing business.

Here’s what I learned from the friends who loved and prayed us through this.

The first thing that marks someone as an encourager is their motivation.

In 1 Corinthians 4:5 Paul underscored the importance of maintaining pure motives when he spoke of the “Judgment Seat of Christ” before which all Christians will eventually appear. That’s when our Lord will uncover the motivation behind everything we have done here on earth, and he will reward us only for the deeds prompted by godly purpose. All else will be destroyed as worthless.

What we do therefore, is in one sense less important than why we do it.

Second, an encourager is able to see goodness in people and events.

Sometimes it is carelessly easy for a critical spirit to slip out of our mouths. Yes, laws are important. Prayerfully set boundaries are sometimes an essential part of discipleship. But Paul didn’t burden the early churches with rules and regulations that would make them perfect faster. He saw the good in their endeavors and encouraged them to persevere in their wholehearted commitment to Christ.

No one ever draws closer to Jesus by being criticized, reprimanded, or punished.

Third, fruitful encouragement is specific.

Effective encouragement requires carefully chosen words. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” If we take him literally, six compliments a year would have kept him motivated. Most of us need more than that.

Encouragement, like words of affirmation, is best expressed in simple, straightforward statements. We must speak to the goodness we see in others, and then choose words that help it grow. The word “encourage” means to “inspire courage.” We all have areas where we feel insecure. Our lack of courage can hinder healthy growth.  

A simple, timely, heartfelt word of encouragement might be all we need for the courage to move forward.

And finally, encouragement is a reflection of character.

If our words of encouragement are to have substantial impact, if our efforts to strengthen each other are to be more than just a pep talk, then we must not only know about God-- we must know God.

The men and women who came alongside me this week are people I trust. They’ve experienced their own fear, loneliness, despair, and times of spiritual poverty. These dear friends spoke from personal experience. They encouraged me from places of being, not just places of knowing.

The character of an encourager must be strong. It must be molded and hardened in the fires of doubt when no one but God is present. Uncertainty—that surprising opportunity to know God better, comes from those places and times where we are forced to depend solely on Him.  

True encouragers have walked “the Via Dolorosa,” the way of suffering. That is why their words are confidently spoken from holy ground. That is why they had the power to make my life better this week.