‘If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it’. – John Maxwell, author
This blog is all about ‘following Jesus in a noisy, broken world’. And dealing with our broken world, day after day, can really wear you down.
That’s why we need to be intentional about really seeing the people around us and encouraging them.
Scripture has a ton to say about encouraging others. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, for example, Paul tells the church there to ‘therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing’.
Notice two things. First, there were reasons to be stressed out and discouraged. I don’t have space to unpack it here, but the ‘therefore’ refers to the fear the Thessalonians were feeling over Christ’s return. They were worried that they wouldn’t be ready. The people around us have reasons to be worried, too. That’s where encouragement comes in.
The second thing is that encouragement is not a one-time, or occasional, event. Even though the Thessalonians were already living a lifestyle of building others up, Paul tells them to keep going. We need to be in this for the long haul!
Making It Real
You probably already believe it’s important to encourage the people around you. But if you’re anything like me, you find it pretty challenging.
So today, I want to share with you one easy way my wife and I try to build this into our lives. I’m not sure we have a name for it, but today I’m going to christen it the ‘Notebook of Encouragement’. You could use it with anyone special in your lives.
Here’s how we do it:
- buy a notebook. Your call on the size, but we find that space for a short note works best. Also, since it’ll take awhile to fill it, and you’ll want it to last, get something with a durable cover.
- buy stickers. We channel our early childhood and use little star stickers like the ones our grade school used, but anything that’s sticky will work.
- look for an opportunity. Pay attention to your spouse, boy/girlfriend. If they’re feeling discouraged or did something wonderful, this is a great reason to encourage them with a note. This is the hardest part, honestly, because we tend to be a little self-focused.
- write the note. Think about it first. No obsession necessary, but putting a little effort in will often make a big difference in how encouraging our note will be.
- place the sticker. This is where the fun begins. Place the sticker somewhere it will be found. Sometimes I put it in an obvious place (like my wife’s computer monitor), other times somewhere more subtle (like the handle of our microwave)
- wait. I like to set this up when I’ll be out. It helps us stay connected and lets my wife know I’m thinking of her even when I can’t be home. After she finds it, she usually texts or calls to say ‘thanks’, but the best part is simply knowing I had the chance to encourage my best friend.
So that’s it, the ‘Notebook of Encouragement’. Easy, right?
The important thing is to find little, consistent ways to express our appreciation and encourage each other. Over time, we become people who express God’s heart for others and they’re strengthened to press ahead when life gets tough.
Question: How do you encourage the people who matter most to you?