By Dr. Harold J. Sala

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

Have you ever faced a situation when you absolutely felt like quitting?  You gave it your best shot.  You worked, you prayed, and you determined to make something happen; but about the time you were ready to hang it up, someone came by and said something.  And what they said gave you the courage to hold on and you eventually succeeded.

There are people – a very limited, select group-in the world who seemingly know how to say exactly the right thing at the right time.  They make you believe in yourself, or hold on long enough to do what you originally wanted to do.

“Encouragement,” says Doug Fields, “is a constant YES in a world that says NO!”  Our English word “encourage” is derived from the French cour, which means “heart!”  If ever a man knew what beats you down in life, Paul, the apostle, was such a man.  He knew how to give encouragement and also had the broadness of heart to know how to receive it as well.

Following a tough journey to Rome, when Paul was shipwrecked, three brothers heard Paul was coming and went to meet him.  Luke says, “At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15).

Why are there so few people who have the largeness of heart to know how to encourage others?  Is it a special gift reserved for some, or can we overcome our reluctance and insecurity to encourage others?

Interested in learning how to be an encourager?  You can, but there are some roadblocks, some of which have tentacles like an octopus reaching back to childhood, that have to be overcome.  Like what?

1)  The insecurity factor has to be overcome.  Many people use sarcasm, thinking they are encouraging someone when, in reality, they are offending the very person they would like to affirm.  Insight:  You’ve got to overcome your own insecurity before you can be an encourager.  How?  Make a statement of encouragement which is positive, straightforward and without qualification. Instead of saying, “You did a pretty good job for someone who always stumbles over his words,” say, “Your comments were really helpful.”  Sarcasm is harmful.  It never makes anyone feel better.  It cuts to the heart.

2)  The inability factor must be dealt with.  You grew up in a home where nobody ever complimented anybody for anything.  Actually, you were the victim of verbal and, possibly, physical abuse.  You were told what you didn’t do right, but never told how well you did anything.  As an adult, you will tend to do the same thing.  Encouragement is a decision, a choice which you make.

3)  The ignorance factor has to go.  How important is it for parents to affirm the worth of their children?  Very important.  How important is encouragement for adults?  Your encouragement may well be the difference between success and failure in the life of your husband or wife, or a friend.  Some folks honestly don’t know how to be an encourager to someone.  If you want to be an encourager, begin noticing what people do well.  Tell them.

4)  The selfishness factor must be overcome.  Insight:  Ego attempts to build up yourself by tearing down someone else, but encouragement builds the other up, which shows true greatness in your life.

5)  The careless factor needs to be confronted. “I always meant to tell him what he meant to me.”  But you waited until you heard the news of his death.  The time to encourage someone is now.  As Paul instructed, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Resource reading: 1 Thessalonians 5


Dr. Harold J. Sala, well known speaker, author and Bible teacher, has served as founder and President of Guidelines International, Inc., since 1963. He is the featured speaker on the daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” which is broadcast on over 1000 radio stations around the world and translated in over 15 languages. Author of over 40 books published in various languages and hundreds of publications. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

Used with permission from Guidelines Philippines, Inc. To learn more about Guidelines and the ministry, please write to Box 4000, 1280 Makati City, Philippines or e-mail address box4000@guidelines.org. You may also visit the Guidelines website at www.guidelines.org.

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