Three Important Truths about Encouragement

Good Morning!  Hope you had a refreshing weekend soaking up God’s goodness.  This is what greeted me this morning as I started to write.

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Now don’t you wish you lived in Minnesota (or woke up earlier :))? 

Since it’s summer and we have lots of new readers to the blog, (and, let’s be honest…I’m ready for a writing break), I thought I’d share a post from a couple of years ago.  Hope it’s helpful to you. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Last weekend John and I preached together on the topic of Encouragement from the book of Acts.

AARRGGHH!  When we do this he is exceedingly kind and because I’m a planner and he’s a “fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants” guy which freaks me out, he lets me study and write the sermon and then he just naturally does his thing, which is always authentic and conversational and makes everything better.

Anyway, I’ve always thought about encouragement as a good thing, a nice thing…

But as I studied it in the book of Acts I began to see it as a crucial tool that God uses to combat Satan in a spiritual battle that is continually raging.  I fear that sounds all hokey/pokey intense and mystical, but think about it…

Satan’s goal is to get us to believe the lies that

we don’t matter,

that God is powerless,

and that we’re all alone.

When we encourage, we remind others of God’s truth – that they do matter, it’s gonna be ok, and they’re not alone.

You can listen, or get more resources here, but what I’ve been thinking about is three things we didn’t say.

1.  Discouragement is personal. Not only does Satan lie to discourage, but he is also crafty liar.  He tailors his whispers to each of us uniquely.  His attacks usually center around our identity.  So if we’re tempted to find our worth in being married, he’ll whisper “You’re not lovable.  You’re not attractive to anyone.”  If we’re tempted to find our worth in accomplishment he may whisper “You’re only a mom, or a secretary, or a barista, or a whatever…  You’re not making a difference.  You’re not good enough.”

Be aware.

2.  Encouragement is personal. The most powerful encouragement is very specific.  When someone says, “Nice sermon.” I tend to discount it as just polite small talk.  It’s like the difference between “You’re terrific!” and “You have a gift of hospitality that helps people experience the welcoming heart of God.  Thank you.”

Be specific.

3.  Timing is personal.  Never underestimate the power of encouragement used in a timely way by God.  Years ago I “randomly” felt prompted to write a guy in another part of the country who had been a mentor in leadership training for me in college.  I hadn’t had contact with him in 20 years.  I wrote of the impact his modeling had made in my life, specifically how his investment had made a kingdom difference.  Little did I know that this was a divinely timed prompting from the Holy Spirit.

I received a response from him saying “Your note came at the absolute lowest point in my life.  I had lost perspective.  I was in despair, convinced that my ministry hadn’t made any difference, that I had sacrificed for years with no fruit.  Your note was the reminder from God that I needed.”  Wow.  Blew me away!

Be responsive to promptings.

In what situations are you likely to be discouraged?  What has been most encouraging to you?

4 Comments

  1. Hello Laura, Thank you for these reminders, especially the one about being specific. I do try to remember this and yet sometimes easy and quick become the norm. I have a loved one who is discouraged and I have tried to be the cheerleader and encourager and yet I am wondering when it is time to step back and allow God to speak, touch, hold and confirm His promises to this dear one. When I ponder the ‘timing’ point above, (and I agree that we need to move into His promptings) I find when it is someone we love so deeply and they are on our heart always, it is hard to discern promptings from longings. Any wisdom on this? Can we ‘over’ encourage? Thank you!

    • Such great thoughts and ponderings – thanks for sharing them! Constant affirmation can lose it’s power for sure, but we all need cheerleaders who somehow see and call out the best in us (if it’s authentic!). One of my constant prayers is for discernment – to know when to speak and when to remain silent. It may also be that we need to pray for other voices in our loved one’s lives to join ours. I don’t know who your loved one is, but I’m praying now, that God Himself would reassure him or her of His great love for them. I’d love to hear thoughts from others on this too!

  2. Sure wish I had heard your combined sermon! Love your 3 personal points. We are called to build each other up, to encourage. I guess that is because the enemy is always working to do the opposite. Thanks. I am sharing this today over at http://www.facebook.com/1Corinthians3Parenting

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