Make a Difference: 4 Ways to Encourage

Who has been one of your most important encouragers?

For some of us, the encouragement that God provided through someone else has been the critical link between what we were doing and what we are doing now.

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Henri Nouwen tells the story of a sculptor whose studio was next door to the home of a little boy. One day, a big flatbed truck pulled up to the studio and delivered an enormous block of marble. The big front doors to the studio opened and the marble was wheeled up to the studio. The little boy, playing in his front yard, followed the workers into the studio to see what would happen. A few days later, he watched as the sculptor took his hammer and chisel and began to chip away at the piece of stone. The boy eventually lost interest and went away. A couple of weeks later, the boy went back into the studio and then to his amazement, he saw no longer a big chunk of stone but in its final phase a beautiful carved lion. The boy was amazed and said, “How did you know there was a lion in that marble?”

Many people just need someone who believes there is a lion inside that block of marble. The following are four ways to encourage:

1. Communicate words of encouragement. Some people have been the victims of cruel and hurtful words. These may have been cruel names or vile words directed at another. Other people have been hurt by the silence of significant people. You can encourage others through words that affirm, compliment, and communicate worth.

2. Express the high value of another person. My friend described an older gentleman this way: “He talks to you as if you were a very important person. He makes you want to come up to a higher standard.” Communicate to another just how important he or she is to you.

3. Be fully present when you are with another. Many of us regularly interact with a lot of people. Yet, when you are in a conversation, you can only be fully present with one person. Pay attention to another even if you are with this person for only ten minutes. Active listening, eye contact, and paying attention communicates volumes to another person.

4. Picture a special future for another. It is important to communicate to another that you believe in her and that you think she has a future. One person said this about her encourager: “He encourages me to do things that I would never have done without his encouragement.”

Question:

Who has encouraged you? How did this person encourage you?

  

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Make a Difference: 4 Ways to Encourage

  1. Jim,
    Those are some excellent points. I really like the point that says “be fully present when you are with another”. Too many times I find myself not paying attention to what the other person is saying and thinking about what task I need to complete next. To answer your question about encouragement, my wife is my biggest fan. Being a physical therapy student, there are many opportunities for your self confidence to be shattered, but she is always there to put things into perspective. She has never stopped believing in me since day one.

    • Chris, thanks very much for your comment. It is very easy to do just what you describe — to be with someone and not really be present. I like what you say re your wife. 🙂

  2. There was an elder at Long Beach who had been in that role for over 40 years. The older he got, the more gracious he was. Never wanting to get stuck in a way of thinking or in his opinions, he was always open to new ideas and supportive of things even when it was not his preference, personally. He encouraged me greatly by simply living out a life a grace. I want to be like him as I grow older … only I have no desire to be an elder in the church!

    • What a wonderful example of a person who grows old and continues to mature in Christ. So glad you shared this story Greg. What a blessing he must have been to work with.