As we finish out the January theme of The Encourager’s Devotional Series – Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement, I’d like to wrap-up with 1) further thoughts regarding a section in the Bible Study Answer Guide, 2) a few suggestions for easy ways to encourage, and 3) a couple fun videos that show the power of encouragement.
1) In the answer guide, I said:
“Our fear of not knowing what to say or how to counsel should not keep us from being encouragers. In fact, many who try to give people pat answers during their times of grief or struggle often end up frustrating the person they are trying to minister to instead of helping them.”
As examples, I invited you to take a look at three articles by people who have experienced this kind of frustration. While I hope those articles will help you to know some of the things people simply do not want to hear when they are hurting, I also hope they don’t have the opposite effect and cause you to feel you just don’t have what it takes to be an encourager. See, the thing about encouragement I was hoping to convey was that encouragement most often does not include advising or counseling. It is a matter of being present with others, of showing them you care through simple gestures.
2) Here’s a hodge-podge list of things I’ve seen or heard about that show the great impact a simple gesture can have:
- I attended a baby shower once where the couple opening gifts took the time to say something about each person as they opened the gift from them. They related a fun story, something they loved about the person, or how the person had influenced their lives. I know it made each person in the room feel special, and certainly made the gift opening time more interesting than most I’ve witnessed.
- I heard of one woman who gave a co-worker a single flower when that co-worker was starting a major project. A card with the flower contained a “you can do it” message. After the project was finished, the woman then gave the co-worker a whole bouquet to celebrate the completion.
- I started putting sticky notes on the bathroom mirror for my husband every day. Each note only had one little thing I like or appreciate about him – sometimes even silly things like “I like the way you tap your finger when you’re listening to music you love.” After a while, I stopped. Though I don’t do it every day now, I did start doing it again after he sent me a message that said he had looked forward to them every morning.
- Someone I know takes notice of the little things others like or do and will randomly show up with small gifts at church or gatherings – rubber duckies for one young lady who collects them, my husband’s favorite creamer at our coffeehouse, a giant coffee mug for me because I’m always looking for mine (not remembering the last place I left it – she said I surely couldn’t fail to see this one), a panda bear egg timer for the girl we call Manda Panda. These gifts are small, but they show us all that she’s noticed something about us and that she thought of us when she was out and about.
- When a young man working at a hardware store was extra helpful and courteous to a woman during several of her visits to the store, she called the store manager to let him know how much she appreciated the young man’s service and what a good worker he was.
3) Dr. Debra Peppers was an overweight teen who was teased a lot in high school. After running away from home and then being in jail, her classmates added “jailbird” to the list of things they could call her. To hear her tell the story about how one teacher gave her just a few words of encouragement that changed her life, click here.
Watch as two guys bring joy to nursing home residents:
And finally, take a look at how one vacuum salesman used his trade to make a kid’s day: