Three Ways to Encourage People
Everybody needs encouragement. I can guarantee that there are people in your sphere of life who could use you coming alongside them today. Who do you need to pick up the phone and call today? Who do you need to take out to lunch or coffee this week? Is there someone you can send a meaningful gift to? If you can think of someone, bringing a little encouragement to their situation will create a very satisfying joy in your life, and theirs.
Here are three ways that you can come alongside someone today:
1 - People need you to come alongside them in their success
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” ( Hebrews 10:24 )
The best way to keep a good thing going is to encourage it – to breath life into it. When you see someone succeeding in life, say something about it. It will foster even more growth and goodness. It can be as simple as, “Hey, you’re doing a great job as a mom!” or “You have been a really good friend to me.” There is enough backbiting and cynicism for this world to drown in. What we need is to give careful consideration to how we can encourage others, and then be purposeful enough to go about it.
There was a guy in the early church who got his name changed to reflect how encouraging he was to people. His name was Barnabas, and the name means “Son of Encouragement”. This new name highlighted his spiritual gift. Barnabas had the ability to stir up the church by emboldening the hearts of believers. He was an encourager to the Apostle Paul when he first came into fellowship. When Christians were still afraid of Paul, having heard about his past, Barnabas vouched for him. Barnabas welcomed people into a loving community and helped them realize their value in Jesus. The Church, and most certainly the world, needs encouragers who will show them their God given value.
2 - People need you to come alongside them in their sinning
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
Encouragement doesn’t always come like a heartwarming hallmark card. Sometimes it requires us to address brokenness. A great threat to us realizing our value is our desire for sin. We are all susceptible to the lying of sin and the hardness it brings to our hearts. That is why “TODAY” we are to exhort – to strongly encourage people toward positive action. When we exhort people toward righteousness and truth, then faith and courage will fill their hearts. We can all agree that this is not easy to do, but it must be done.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
This is a verse that I can’t seem to read without God making me put it into action. James was exhorting fellow believers to be compelled to go after those who have wandered from the truth. There are people who we used to have fellowship with, study the scriptures with, and share the simple joys of life in Christ with, but for some reason or another, they no longer walk in the truth. They were running well, but someone or something hindered them. We are exhorted to go after them. Galatians 6 gives good instruction for how to do this well. Honestly, I have seen this go both ways. I have gone after a person to humbly and gently tell them that they are in sin, and call them to repentance, and they do. They turn back from their error and God saves them from what would have been death and a multitude of sins. Although, I have also been rejected and told to mind my own business. I’ve been shrugged off, belittled, and even cursed. This is no easy thing to do, but when we realize what we are encouraging people toward – life and blessing with Jesus – it is totally worth it. As Christians, we cannot encourage sin, but we can encourage people to receive the grace and mercy of Jesus in the midst of it.
Encouragement isn’t always light and fluffy; encouragement can be messy and hard.
3 - People need you to come alongside them in their suffering
One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is when four friends bring their paralytic friend to Jesus. He is carried on a mat into a town where Jesus is teaching in a packed out house. When they arrive at the house, there is no room for them to get inside. However, nothing was going to stop them from doing what they came to do. They climb up on the roof and begin pulling off the tiles, the mud, and the sticks, until there is an opening large enough for their friend. The man is lowered through the roof and set right in front of Jesus. Seeing the faith of the four friends, Jesus heals the man. The man got up and walked out that day, healed and forgiven.
The best thing we can do to encourage people who are suffering in physical sickness or spiritual brokenness is to bring them to Jesus. We bring them by prayer and supplication. By faith, we lay them at the feet of Jesus with the expectation of His ability to restore. Sometimes God heals, sometimes God strengthens, and sometimes God brings that brother or sister home to himself. We never fully know the earthly outcome of a person's suffering, but we can be confident that our eternal God has good plans and purposes.
When Christians think of suffering, they often think of Job. Job was greatly afflicted. He suffered and God allowed it for a time. Job had friends who came to him thinking they were bringing encouragement and comfort, but they only brought more affliction. They said things that were not true and ended up taking courage out of the heart of Job. We need to be sensitive to people in their suffering, but never too timid to think that we cannot talk to or touch a person who is suffering. The risk of saying or doing something wrong is much less than not doing anything at all. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Ask God to show you the ways to provide comfort and put courage back into their hearts.
So we have discovered three ways to encourage one another.
Encourage people in their success
Encourage people to come out from their sin
Encourage people in their suffering
Don’t just do the easy ones. Some of these are hard to do and I pray God gives you the courage to do it.
But how do you even begin to go about this?
It begins by caring…
People are created in the image of God. God loves all people, and he desires that they would have fullness of life. Care about those who God has put around you. When you begin to care, you will begin to act as an encourager.
We encourage when we are present…
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Be in people’s lives and allow others to be in your life. The early church understood something – life is better together. We live in an interesting time where we are so connected, and yet we are so distant from one another. We need to re-learn to be present in one another’s lives. Sometimes just being in the same room with a person, letting them know you are there for them, is the best way to encourage.
We encourage when we speak…
“Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Proverbs 12:25 )
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 25:11 )
A modern proverb is “Actions speak louder than our words.” The proverbs of the Bible, however, put a high value on words being spoken. You will have the ability to speak when you are present in people’s lives, but you will never be present in people’s lives if you don’t speak to them. Step out and say something and it might just be what someone needed to hear today.
So who is that person that needs your encouragement? Hopefully this has encouraged you to encourage them.