As I walked up, I could see she was fighting back tears. A well of emotion rising up after hearing a message of encouragement. “I can’t remember the last time I felt truly encouraged—thank you,” she said. She wasn’t alone—not today or any day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our chief want in life is to find someone who will make us do what we can.” Life is breathed into the “can” we can do by the right person, with the right word, at the right moment, delivering an essential truth in a loving and gracious way.
Encouragement breathes life into our souls.
Life has a way of getting us to settle into what I like to call the “I am” zone (this is who and what I am). A place where daily routine numbs us of our need to give and receive encouragement. After speaking on Sunday, I received an email that sums this up well.
“Jim – – I left the 11:00 service with several people on my mind, and a sense that I have not done enough (or in some cases, anything) to be an encourager to them. Thank you for a very thought-provoking sermon!
Everyone can be a great encourager by developing and nurturing five qualities.
#1—A Genuine Heart for People
Encouragers demonstrate a real and loving concern for people. They are keenly aware of when changing conditions and circumstances ignite fear, break hearts and rob you of your passion. Rick Warren says, “The first job of leadership is to love people.” The condition of your heart is a measure of your willingness and capacity to encourage.
#2—An Empathetic Ear
Encouragers actively listen with empathy. Meaningful encouragement is grounded in understanding—being able to accurately interpret what other people are saying. Great encouragers consistently seek to understand people. They are as comfortable with your fears and failures as they are with your hopes and dreams.
#3—An Eye for Potential
Encouragers see people as storehouses of untapped potential because they don’t see you where you are, but have a vision of where you can go. By looking at people as a work-in-progress they provide coaching, feedback and mentoring that enables the discovery and development of your unique gifts and talents.
#4—A Consistent Source of Hope
Encouragers see circumstances and conditions as changeable. They are prayerful problem-solvers and help you create solutions and pursue positive change. They know that resistance and failure are the inevitable companions of lofty goals and dreams and consistently deliver words of hope that support your race to the finish line.
#5—Setting a Positive and Inspiring Example
In every role of their life they are consistently the same because they are comfortable mixing with people from every area of their life because they are the same publicly, privately and personally. Great encouragers become pictures of humility, authenticity, compassion and action.
Every important race in life will bring us face-to-face with adversity, resistance and challenges. They gang up with the hope of knocking you out of the race. While encouragement does not guarantee you immediate relief or victory it serves to push you towards creating a pattern of increasing effectiveness and impact.
Everyone needs some help to nurture and develop these qualities.
Here are five of my favorite books to fill your tank with encouragement.
The Noticer – Andy Andrews
“Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely. Don’t squander your words or your thoughts. Consider that even the simplest actions you take for your lives matter beyond measure…and they matter forever.”
The Greatest Salesman in the World – Og Mandino
“I will greet this day with love in my heart…Wealth is good when it brings joy to others.”
—The Greatest Salesman in the World
Good to Great in God’s Eyes – Chip Ingram
“The desire to be great was planted on your heart by the one who made you.”
—Good to Great in God’s Eyes
What can we do to accomplish more, to celebrate more, to touch more lives in our remaining years than we have to this point?
—20,000 Days and Counting
Encouragement Changes Everything: Bless and Be Blessed – John Maxwell
“People who add value to others almost always do so intentionally.”
—Encouragement Changes Everything