Everyone likes to be encouraged. Sometimes as a pastor I’m tempted to think it’s my job to “fix” people. But in reality when someone is struggling, the main thing they usually need is simply to be encouraged.
Do you encourage others? Some people say, “I’m just not wired to be an encourager.” We tend to let our circumstances keep us from encouraging others. Discouragement is one of the most effective tools of the Devil. He can use it to render you ineffective.
What is our responsibility for encouraging others when we are followers of Christ? Sometimes encouragement doesn’t come to you until you encourage someone else. Being an encourager should not depend on how you “feel”. You have to intentionally make the decision to be an encourager. Just remembering what Christ has done for us should wake us up and make us realize we need to encourage others. It should not depend on our circumstances. We should be encouragers because of who Christ is. And we need to learn how to receive encouragement as well. Encouragement isn’t always just pumping someone up and patting them on the back. Sometimes encouragement is helping someone to head in the right direction.
I love hearing “job well done”. It makes me want to do even better next time. There is probably someone near you who just needs to hear that your care. We need to reach out to those around us. We need to ask ourselves, “Is the way I interact with others throughout the week encouraging to them?”
In the Bible, in Acts 9:26-27, Paul had just been struck blind and knocked down by God after persecuting and killing Christians. Paul went through a miraculous transformation and committed himself to following Christ. But no one trusted him because of his past. Imagine how discouraged Paul must have been. However, God worked through Barnabas, who testified to others about Paul and the change he had gone through so that others began to trust Paul and welcome him. Imagine the risk that Barbabas was taking and how hard it must have been for him. But he still chose to obey God and be an encourager.
We can’t be encouragers only when we “feel” like it. Encouragement comes because of who lives inside of us. Encourage desperate people. Encouragement from Barnabas helped Paul to eventually write much of the New Testatament in the Bible and he led many people to Christ.
For people who don’t know Christ, churches often hand them a list of things they have to do, which is just DIS-couraging. Instead, we need to simply relate to people and ask God to help us understand how to do that.
One problem is that most people tend to hide it when they are hurting. To be an encourager you have to pay attention so you can know when someone is hurting. If I “coincidentally” run into someone, is it God trying to tell me something? We should be an encourager even when we may think someone may not need encouragement. I’ve often received encouraging text messages from others right when I really needed some encouragement, but they had no way to know that at the time. If you ever sense that someone may need some help, and that you should talk to them – Do It Now! Don’t wait.
You must be an encourager both to people inside your family, and those outside. Rather than “setting someone straight” or making a point, think about being an encourager and allowing God to draw them to Himself. Some people just need to hear that their life matters.
Psalm 139 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” In other words, God carefully put you together for a special purpose which he had planned long ago, and he has you here right now for that very reason.
When someone else is discouraged, remind them of that. God wants them here and made them for this moment in time. Take this moment and encourage each other. And share with each other when you are discouraged; don’t hide it. Be encouraged. And be an Encourager.