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How can you be an encourager?

Regular contributor Jane Walters reminds us that we can all find ways to offer encouragement to others.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was taking part in his church’s social evening. His ‘turn’ was to play the piano in the style of Les Dawson – replete with the copious mistakes he made famous. As he bashed away at the keys, sounding like he was making an utter mess of it, one of the older church members leaned in and hissed, ‘Don’t worry, lad, just keep going!’
It’s a funny story, but it underlines what encouragement can do. When we feel we’re dragging one foot in front of the other, a simple, ‘Well done, keep it up!’ can do wonders to our momentum, lifting our spirits and putting a spring into our step. Even when we don’t feel we’re doing that well ourselves, that positive reaction from someone else can change everything.
Of course, as with anything in life, it’s equally easy to get it wrong. I’ve been on the receiving end of ‘encouragement’ that has been anything but. Either they thought I’d made a brave, first stab at something I’ve actually been doing for years, or there was criticism hidden within its folds. We do have to be so careful.
And what of flattery, the ugly sister of encouragement? The glowing praise may be oh-so-lovely on the ears, but how sincerely was it meant? I came across a brilliant quote recently: Gossip is saying behind a person’s back what we would never say to their face; flattery is saying to their face what we wouldn’t say behind their back. If you’ve ever found yourself saying, ‘Oh, well done, you!’ and then, almost in the same breath, muttering about everything that you felt was wrong; you can be sure that you weren’t offering genuine encouragement.
One of the key figures in the ministry of the apostle Paul was a chap by the name of Joseph of Cyprus. Unfamiliar? Perhaps you know him better as Barnabas, his nickname based on the Greek word for encourager. What a great thing to be known for! The Bible records that he sold some land and offered the proceeds to the work of the early church.
Sometimes, encouragement has to go beyond mere words into practical outworking. Perhaps when you see someone getting tired or down, as well as offering well-placed words, you could lend a hand or arrange outside help?
How can you be an encourager today? Is there someone you could drop an email or note to, telling them you appreciate them and are praying for them? Is there a need you can meet? Be the one who can make all the difference.
The image above is from pixabay.com

Jane Walters 175Jane Walters, formerly Clamp, is the author of Too Soon, a mother’s journey through miscarriage (SPCK) and a regular contributor to Premier Radio and UCB. She is also vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers. Jane leads creative writing retreats and is a popular speaker locally and further afield. Visit: janewyattwalters.com

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(Guest) 27/01/2022 19:14
My husband is a great encourager and spots the good about people. Sadly he has been on the receiving end of the opposite-verbally lacerated in a church car park because he didn't do the right type of sermon that the new minister wanted. Shame all Christians can't be encouraging.

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