I have a manila envelope in my office that is full of some of my most /treasured possessions. When I’m going through a difficult season I’ll pull it out and read through the letters and notes that are stuffed inside. These pieces of paper are precious to me because they’re full of encouragement from people that cared enough to take the time to bless me with their words.
The Bible has a lot to say about our words and how we should use them.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” – Proverbs 18:21 (Amplified Bible)
I certainly want to share words that bring life and blessing to others. An encouraging word or note from someone can be just what I need to keep going when experiencing a discouraging season. Often we will think of positive things about another person that we would like to say but hesitate in actually following through and doing it.
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” – Proverbs 10:11
This is a challenge to me to weigh my words carefully so they will indeed be life giving when I speak. It is also a sobering reminder of the responsibility I bear when speaking to others. We are accountable for what we say and the impact our words have on others.
We have a saying in our house that we want to be “bucket-fillers.” I explain to my children that every person goes through their day with an internal bucket. When others speak to us with kindness and care they pour that into our bucket; however, when others use unkind words and a sharp tone this, in turn, tips our bucket and pours some of what was in it out. We go throughout our day with these interactions and at the end of the day sometimes we have a bucket overflowing with feelings of contentment and acceptance, while other days our bucket is empty and dry. In our house we remind each other to choose our words wisely and ask ourselves, “Am I filling their bucket or tipping it over with what I’m about to say?”
The words we choose to use impact the people we live with, our coworkers, the volunteers we serve alongside, as well as people we interact with briefly, like cashiers and waiters.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – I Thessalonians 5:11
So how can we do that on a daily basis? 5 Ways to Encourage Others:
- Don’t put it off – When someone comes to mind simply consider how you might encourage them. Are they going through a personal struggle? Did you see something in their life recently that encouraged you? Do you simply feel like you need to pray for them? Don’t delay, rationalize or tell yourself you will do it later. Act on your intention – NOW! Far too often we hesitate in the moment and then never do what we intended. We simply miss the blessing of being an encouragement.
- Keep it simple – When you decide to bless someone with your words it doesn’t have to complicated. Simply tell them you are praying for them, or actually stop and ask if you can pray right then. Jot a simple note on the back of a receipt and leave it on their car window. Send a short text thanking them for their friendship. Even the simplest gestures, can often be a difference maker in someone’s life.
- Use the resources at hand – A letter in the mail can be such a special thing to receive but sometimes you don’t have that handy. Don’t let that hinder you from blessing someone with an encouraging note. Thankfully technology and social media make it possible to reach out to someone in the moment. When you think of a friend send him or her a quick facebook message or a text sharing your thoughts. Maybe you don’t have any stamps but sending an email asking an old friend how he is doing is free and fast.
- Don’t be shy – We often second guess ourselves when we have an impulse to do something like stop someone and ask if you can pray for them, or telling a mom in the store what a good job you see her doing. Don’t miss the opportunity to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit to encourage someone. They may desperately need to hear a positive word from another person and by simply stepping out and saying, “Good job” you may be changing the course of their day completely.
- Remember – Think back over your life and remember the times others have blessed you with encouragement. Maybe it was a coach giving you positive feedback, or an aunt that always sent letters at just the right time, or a friend in college that just had a knack for leaving notes and little gifts that showed they cared. We can be that for others if we simply take a moment and look up from our phones and get our eyes off of ourselves to look around us and be a blessing.
Part of the power of encouragement is that not only does it bless others, but we also are blessed.
A favorite verse of mine is Proverbs 11:25.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25
When we are obedient to use our words, whether written or verbal, to refresh others, then we ourselves will be refreshed. What a gift!
How can you encourage someone today?