Encouragement can come in many different forms. It is something we can offer to others with a simple smile or word. It doesn’t have to be planned and thought through. It can naturally come from us when we see an opportunity. If we pay close attention, the opportunities to encourage are abundant. We do not have to look hard. Encouragement can be in the form of a note dropped in the mail. It can be a quick phone call or text. It can even be done right in the moment. Just a simple few words to build someone else up could make all the difference.
With this being so easy, I wonder why so many of us find it challenging. Here are a few ideas we may want to consider as to why we may be struggling with encouragement:
-It is easier to criticize than encourage. We may find that pointing out where someone else is wrong or how we think they should do something different is helpful. We are giving “advice” to help them out. We see the opportunity, we take it. But we can end up focusing only on what needs to be changed to make someone else better. All the while, a little more encouragement and a little less advice would go a long way. Maybe we consider our words and find ways to lift up rather than correct. Correction is rarely as helpful as we think it will be.
-We don’t seek opportunities to encourage. Maybe we don’t want to seem awkward. Maybe we feel that the other person already knows how proud we are of them. Maybe that person is doing so well, encouragement doesn’t seem to be needed. But none of these are really valid reasons for not lifting someone up.
-We feel in competition. Most of us wouldn’t actually own up to this one. Surely we don’t feel any competition towards others. But if we see someone else doing well, envy can sneak up. We don’t expect it and we don’t look for it. Envy just finds a way of slithering into our minds. So instead of encouraging someone else, we seek to beat them at their game. Or we are so jealous of what they have done, we don’t want to offer encouragement. It becomes about us and our desires rather than lifting someone else up. When envy and jealousy find a place in our lives, they can wreak havoc on our relationships.
Today, let’s seek to encourage. Find someone to lift up. It doesn’t take a full-on search. It only takes open eyes and a willing heart. Encourage someone else, no agenda. A simple offering will do. It just might change a life. It just might change us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery