Be of Good (En)courage(ment)

The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and fans are getting antsy. Snacks will be prepared, faces will be painted, and chaos will most definitely ensue. As you dust off your best game day recipes, here’s something to ponder: what if you cheered on the people—all of the people—God has put in your life like you cheer for your favorite team? What if you let that level of intensity funnel into encouraging those around you?

I firmly believe that if every Christian spoke life into those they encountered with purpose and energy, our world would change. Suicide statistics would shrink. Isolation would run away. Depression would be lessened. But the holding back of the bad isn’t it: hope would rise. Strength would be found again. Courage, the result of en-courage-ing, would find a voice.

During a mission trip to Shreveport, Louisiana, I was given one of the weirdest jobs of my life: I was designated an official team encourager. Each day I would cheer on the students I worked with as they painted and built and sweated and groaned in the drenching humidity. Because I’m just about as Type A as they come, I took my job very seriously. That week was quite the growth process: for the first time ever, I found myself strategically looking for opportunities to praise the people around me. Even though I (obviously) left that location, I have found that hearts everywhere still crave a message to break up the monotony, to pour fresh vigor into their activity and identity.

Friends, there is enough griping out there. Enough negativity. Enough arguing. Enough gossip. Enough drama. Enough tearing down.

Of course I haven’t “arrived” yet in this area; there’s still plenty of progress to make. But I’ve seen the effect a timely word can have. (And please, don’t be the ill-mannered Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice—there is a way to do encouragement that makes it empty.)

Think of the people you interact with regularly as Russian nesting dolls (the ones that hold smaller and smaller versions of themselves inside). Encouraging them grows them to their greatest capacity, while tearing them down causes them to dwindle to the puniest one possible. If it feels false, speak to who God wants them to become. Is your husband not the quickest when it comes to romance? Praise him when he does something—anything—thoughtful. Your friend is weak in an area? Send loving reminders of what the Lord says is true. There are so many times in Scripture that encouragement is the agent through which healthy change occurs.

So here’s my challenge for us together: if it’s encouraging, say it. Say it promptly, thoughtfully, and genuinely. But say it. (And if it’s not encouraging, don’t.) We were placed here and now for a reason. Let’s get busy infusing our people with the life we’ve been so graciously given. Pick up your pompoms.

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

(Ephesians 4:29)

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