We live in a noisy world. In that noise, there is an abundance of dissension, condescension, and negativity. My advice for you today is very simple:
Be an encourager.
We cannot overstate the importance and need of good encouragement in our society today. But instead of turning this post into an echo-chamber of current news and feeds, I wanted to take 3 minutes of your time to give you a little perspective on the power of encouragement.
Most of us don’t give much thought to the impact an encouragement can have. Encouraging others is typically something we do out of our own personality trait, or when an opportunity to validate someone’s accomplishments and achievements presents itself. Someone does well, we extend an “atta boy!”. Someone shares some good news, we cheer “you go girl!”. But encouragement works best when it is tied to possibility and potential. Before the achievement. Before the score. Before the good report. Before the promotion. Validating where someone is in life is certainly encouraging, but expressing what you hope for them, and the greatness you see in their future, is life-changing!
Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, once said that when motivating people we should be more idealistic, and less realistic. This principle of basing encouragement on possibility is a concept we find deep in the Scriptures.
One story that comes to mind is the story of Gideon, found in Judges chapter 6. Gideon is found hiding in a hole, preparing food. His land and country had been seized and oppressed by enemies who would raid the villages to steal cattle and supplies. While in the hole, hopeless and wondering how to get ahead, the story says that a messenger from God appears to Gideon. What message does this angel bring? “The Lord is without, man of valor. Go in this strength of yours and defeat the enemy”. Man of valor? Strength? Gideon’s answer is the most honest and accurate answer he could give: “How can I save my people? I’m from the weakest clan, and I’m the least in my father’s house.”
There is a lesson here. God called Gideon as God saw Gideon, not as Gideon saw himself. Is there someone in your life who you see clearly what he or she can become? Then call it out. Someone is down and fearing impending loss, but you see their potential and ability to win? Call it out! “Hi there, winner!” Someone is in the middle of a tough fight, facing pressure from every side, but you know they have the strength to overcome it? Call it out! “Hello, strong one!”
There are other examples in Scripture. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations”, before he was ever a father. Jesus told His disciples that whoever believes in Him would do even greater works than He.
Sometimes, like Gideon, our friends, kids, parents, and family members are in the trenches, looking down, and too discouraged to see how powerful they are; too unaware to see that God is for them. They haven’t done any self-assessment or heard anything positive in a while. They are fighting enemies left and right. You can be that positive voice, that positive influence that calls them higher! And if they happen to believe the lies, that they are weak and unable, repeat the words of the messenger of God. While they are still in the hole, and before they see the light, tell them that God is with them, and that they will overcome!