(Photo by Selma Komisky)
A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way
By Zelda Dominguez
“Encourage one another and build each other up.”
– I Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
Sometimes we cross paths with people who are curt or rude and not very easy to like. Yet there is usually a reason for their behavior, and often it is because they are hiding a heavy heart. Most people, despite a strong exterior, inwardly are desperately wishing for someone to care about them. We live in a world full of people who are discouraged
Encouragement can change the trajectory of one’s life. For example, did you know that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends? They were such an encouragement to each other in their writing. Tolkien was a major influence in C.S. Lewis’s conversion to Christianity, which of course greatly affected his writing. In a nutshell, Tolkien influenced Lewis’ ideology; Lewis encouraged Tolkien to keep writing.
Famous Tom Brady, NFL quarterback, described an influential encouragement in his life, saying, “Coach Tom Martinez’s invaluable assistance and support will never be forgotten and will always have a lasting impact on my life.” Martinez worked with Brady when he was growing up and their relationship continued during Brady’s career. Brady told reporters that Martinez taught him how to throw a football. Now he has played in ten Super Bowls, winning seven.
The English word encourage, defines itself. To put courage in someone, not discourage or remove it, but deposit it. The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. Do you know we have the opportunity to encourage and make a difference in someone’s life? Many of us think we have to disparage ourselves to lift someone up. But in reality, sometimes just being ourselves and living the example of a Christ follower is enough. Never underestimate the effect you may have on a person. Someone is always watching. A coworker, or neighbor, friend, student, stranger, or family? I’ll give you an example.
My husband had a co-worker years ago. He wasn’t the friendliest person, always angry and seemed unhappy. He didn’t accept correction or support well. Now skip to last month, my husband got a phone call, and it’s this old coworker! He cuts to the chase and said, “I’m sorry for being a total jerk. I watched you and I just wanted to tell you I am a Christian now; thank you for everything!” My husband was surprised. It had been so long ago and he never really shared the gospel with him, but his integrity and example at work had a life-changing effect on him. You never know how you can affect someone’s life.
The Bible mentions the word parakaleo 109 times, which is translated: para= to come along side kaleo= one who is called. That is what encouraging, comforting and exhorting is – one who is called to come along side someone.
What does that look like? The man called Barnabas is mentioned 34 times in the New Testament. Barnabas is first mentioned in the Book of Acts and his name is really Joseph, but he is given this nickname because it means son of encouragement. Barnabas looked for the potential in others and not their failures; He played a significant role in encouraging the early church, John Mark, and the apostle Paul. Please take the time to read about him. His ministry of encouragement had eternal significance for the gospel and so can yours.
And of course, Jesus was the master encourager!
2 Corinthians 1:3 says, “He is the Father of encouragement.” His teachings, promises, encounters with others, and His actions encouraged His disciples. Allow God to encourage you through His Word, the Bible, and through His spirit. John 16:7b says, “If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”He’s given us the Holy Spirit to indwell in us and never leave us.
Are you an encourager? Do you have one in your life? Everyone needs one, and we all need to be one. Let’s look around for people to bless and be an encourager. Remember a little encouragement goes a long way.