Everyone goes through difficult times, and most people appreciate encouragement when they are going through hard times.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of encouragement: to make someone more hopeful, determined and confident. To inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.
You may never know how your words can lift someone out of despair or bring hope that has been lost. When you encourage people try not to assume that you know their story or situation in life. Most of the time you can look at others facial expressions to notice the toll that life has been taking on them. Just because someone puts on a smile and says that they are, “okay,” does not necessarily mean that they are. Some people have learned to wear “masks” to cover up their pain.
You can give encouragement to strangers, family, and friends–everyone benefits from encouragement. Smiling at someone can bring comfort and positive emotions to others. The best way to receive encouragement is to give encouragement.
The gift of encouragement or exhortation is found in Paul’s list of spiritual gifts in (Romans 12:7-8). Encouraging someone is being able to find those in need and lift their spirits, basically being a cheerleader for them–standing on the sidelines and saying keep going, push through, keep fighting. Those that are hurting or burdened with life’s difficulties can sense there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel when someone comes alongside them and cheers them on to finish the race.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
12 practical ways to give encouragement to others:
- Send a card to someone who may need a word of encouragement. A hand-written card is a lost art in our culture, but it is still a powerful way to show someone that you care and are thinking of them.
- Listen to others, truly listen to their hearts without giving any advice. Most people want to be heard, understood, and validated. Offer to pray for them after listening to their stories.
- Give a word from the Lord to someone when he prompts you to. It may be as simple as telling someone, “Don’t give up.”
- Send scriptures or portions of devotionals that pertain to what someone is going through. This can be done through a text, email, card, or phone call.
- Give genuine compliments, not flattery. Everyone has unique qualities and gifts, find out what those are in others and speak them out.
- Bring out the best in others by focusing on their strengths and abilities. Most likely if someone is going through a difficult season in their life, they usually do not feel too good about themselves and may need someone else to remind them of their good qualities.
- Send someone a text or call them just to say, “I’m thinking of you today.”
- Encourage people to follow Christ, and not abandon their faith when the trials of life come. Some people walk away from their faith when life gets tough. In these times, be the one who comes alongside that person and encourages them to continue in the “good fight.”
- Be a friend to someone who is hurting. Reach out and ask them to get a cup of coffee with you. Just being there for someone can be a huge encouragement.
- Let others know when they have encouraged you or helped you in some way.
- Encourage your checkers at the grocery store and other places of business by saying, “Thank you and I appreciate you.” Leave a note of appreciation for your waiter and leave a generous tip.
- Give someone a gift just because.
Encouraging others does not have to take a lot of time, smiling at someone takes a few seconds. Encourage others the way you would want to be encouraged. A word spoken in due season (Proverbs 15:23), can restore hope in someone’s life.
Challenge: This week, pick one or two things off the list of how to encourage others, and do them! Let us know what you did and how it went.
Who will you encourage first?