Encouragement has a way of inspiring people to try and do things they never thought they could accomplish. It also has a way of comforting people when they are going through difficult circumstances, and maybe that’s why the ability to encourage is seen as a positive moral trait in nearly every nation. We know the Bible holds encouragement in high esteem because it calls upon every Christian to practice it. And even businesses promote it as an organizational value due to its link to increased productivity and performance.
So how can a person become a good encourager?
The first step to becoming a good encourager is to know why you should be an encourager. From a Christian perspective, a few reasons to consider are these:
1. God himself is an encourager. “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
2. God’s Word is an encourager. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
3. Encouragement is a spiritual gift. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if it is to encourage, then give encouragement…” (Romans 12:6-8).
4. Encouragement is an expected practice of Christ-followers. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
The second step to becoming a good encourager is to understand what encouragement is. In an article entitled “The Psychology of Encouragement,” Dr. Y. Joel Young defines encouragement like this: “At its most basic level, encouragement is the expression of affirmation through language or other symbolic representations to instill courage, perseverance, confidence, inspiration, or hope in a person within the context of addressing a challenging situation or realizing a potential.”
That definition reminds us that encouragement is others-focused and serves the very specific purpose of helping a person through a particular challenge or helping a person fulfill his or her potential.
In that same article, Dr. Young lists the following traits of good encouragers: (1) Be a trustworthy person; (2) Be credible by providing specific and honest encouragement; (3) Grow through practice; (4) Help create an atmosphere of encouragement in your various contexts (home, workplace, school, neighborhood, church).
To read an inspiring story of how some high school girls created an atmosphere of encouragement in their school click on this link: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-stories/2444-motivational-post-it-notes
Another step to becoming a good encourager is to show up for people. Your presence can be a great encouragement to people. This is what the writer of Hebrews claims in 10:24-25 when he urges the members of the early church to not give up meeting together because the simple act of showing up could be a great encouragement to other believers.
Our world can be a very discouraging place for many people, so one of the best ways to make a difference in this world is to become a good encourager of people.
So, who can you encourage today?