By Rachel Stewart
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
My sister has been giving Callie swimming lessons. During her third lesson, Callie did not seem to be making much progress. Then the cheering committee showed up on the scene. Granny and Granddaddy had arrived.
“Wow! Look at that girl kick those legs!”
“Callie Beth, you are doing so good!”
“Look at that big girl! You are really learning how to swim!”
It was like a different little girl was in the pool. Callie started trying harder. She had renewed vigor and enthusiasm. She was giving it her all.
And I learned a powerful lesson at the swimming pool about encouragement.
We all need encouragement. We have a desperate need for validation. I believe that at the core of every human being is a deep desire to be loved, affirmed, and accepted.
The world is constantly discouraging us. The movies and magazines tell us we aren’t good enough, aren’t pretty enough, aren’t smart enough. We don’t measure up to the world’s standards. Because of that, we tend to be super critical of ourselves and others. We are likely to find fault in others rather than emphasize their positive qualities.
I think we can especially be the hardest on the people closest to us; the people we work with, our friends and family. We see their flaws and imperfections more than anyone because we are around them the most.
Everyone has insecurities. We know our own weaknesses well. And it doesn’t help that the world is constantly reminding us of them. We certainly don’t need those closest to us doing the same.
They need US to encourage and build them up more than anyone else.
Words can be powerful. They have such incredible power to build up or tear down. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. “
Have you had someone in your life who really believed in you and encouraged you? Someone who made you feel like you could do or be anything? You might not quite be that person, but they made you FEEL that way. And their words motivated you to BECOME THAT person.
Encouragers have a lot of friends. Everyone loves being around them. They are magnets. They draw people to them.
Imagine how our relationships would change if we were intentional about using our words to build up instead of tearing others down…choosing to look for and compliment the BEST in others.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should give false encouragement. We should be genuine in our compliments of others. As Christians, I think we have an obligation to show mercy and grace to others. We should be known as people who overlook others’ faults. After all, isn’t that what Christ did for us?
Encouragement has a ripple effect too. Building others up not only makes others feel better, but it causes us to feel better too. Proverbs 11:25 says, “…whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
I have found that I am the most encouraged when I am encouraging others, and I am the most discouraged when I am critical of others.
I need to apply this encouragement lesson more every day in all of my relationships.
Encouragement is powerful.
Who needs your encouragement today?