I have been impacted in such a positive way by great encouragers. You know these kind of people. They have a way of coming alongside and leaving you a better person. They have a way of communicating value. In many ways, they seem to say, "You have something to offer." I am so thankful that God placed them in my life.
One reason why encouragers like Barnabas (Acts 4:36) are so important is because there are so many negative influences around each one of us. There are people who regularly communicate negative, kill-joy messages.
- That will never work
- You don’t want to do that
- Everybody is against it
- How are you going to afford graduate school?
- What about the money?
- Why on earth would you want to move there?
- You don’t want to make a fool out of yourself
- Yea, I was young once. You need to stop dreaming
- Where did you ever get an idea like that?
- What’s wrong with the way we’ve been doing it?
Then there are people who are passive. These people don’t necessarily say something negative or discouraging. They just don’t say anything at all! When you are dealing with passive people, it feels like you are disconnected.
- You put yourself "out there" sharing your dreams and the person gives no feedback or response. She/He just moves on to another subject.
- You express feelings that are difficult (maybe hurt or frustration). The person (or people) who you are talking with says nothing. In silence, he or she just looks at you or makes a little joke (a way of keeping things superficial).
- You risk yourself by expressing fear only to receive a dismissive look (from a person who keeps you at arms length).
Unfortunately, I have sometimes let all of this impact me far too much. I once expressed some deep concerns to some people once only to be greeted by silence. I remember thinking, "I won’t do this again". Maybe that is understandable. On the other hand, maybe I was just talking to the wrong people.
I’m thankful for some special encouragers who were/are a part of my life. Again, these people communicate messages that are very different from the negative or passive people.
- James–who helped me believe that I could do much more in service to God than I ever imagined.
- My father-in-law–who communicated to me in so many ways that he believed that I could get through graduate schoo, do ministry, etc. He listened to me preach regularly for several years. He looked for ways to build me up.
- Charlotte–who for so many years has communicated her confidence in me.
There are others who I could name. These encouragers have added value to my life. They have given me confidence and courage to not give up. Most of all, they kept me from getting too distracted by the negative.