I have always been a predominantly optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person. That’s not to say I don’t get discouraged or say negative things or sometimes play the “what if something terrible happens” game — because I do. Two important realizations related to this struck me a few weeks ago:
I’m not just a person with a positive attitude. I’m an encourager.
I need to own that fact and stop apologizing for being an encourager. And that includes no longer feeling guilty about looking for positive things when surrounded by negativity or stifled by the weight of situations. No more feeling “less than” when other people might think my mindset is ill-founded.
My ah-ha moments came while listening to a workshop from this year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Author/editor Lisa Crayton led a workshop called “Writing to Encourage.” And although she was addressing writers, many of the things she said apply to each of us as Christians.
Here’s one gem:
“We are the keepers of encouragement,” she said. “We have the Spirit of God in us to encourage others.”
The keepers of encouragement. I love the perspective. Those of us who follow Christ have the best news in the world to share and the biggest reason to hold onto hope and help others do the same.God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now. Click To Tweet
Bible verses in both the Old and New Testaments tell us to do this. Here are just a few:
- Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
- I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12)
- And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
I know there have been times when people viewed me as a Pollyanna who doesn’t want to acknowledge negative things. They’ve looked at me as less worldly or less mature, as someone wearing blinders to the harsh realities of life.
And I’ve let them do that. I’ve kept my mouth shut or downplayed the encouragement or optimism I could have shared because of how I believed they would view it. Because I didn’t want to see another round of eye rolls or “she’s clueless” glances or hear the “yeah, right” huffs.
Their attitudes toward me are wrong, but so is my response.
I can’t control what they think of me. I can control how I react.We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. Click To Tweet
In her workshop, Lisa Crayton also said, “Christian writers are uniquely positioned … to lead readers out of their place of discouragement to finding the encouragement that they need.”
I agree with that statement 110% as a Christian writer, but also as a Christian trying to get through each day in this unpredictable world.
As Romans 12:8 says, If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (NLT)
Encouragement doesn’t have to come across as preachy or goody-goody or out of touch. I’m not perfect at it and there are plenty of times when I don’t follow through on an opportunity as I should. But I — we — can get better at it if we’ll ask for God’s help.
Why should we bother? Because God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now.
It can be as small as telling someone you hope they have a great day. Or sending a text to someone you haven’t connected with in a long time. Or letting the person in line behind you at the grocery store go first because they have five items in their basket and your cart is crammed full.
If “official” encouragement feels uncomfortable right now, we can encourage from behind the scenes. Prayers lifted on someone’s behalf can do wonders, even if they don’t know you’re praying.
So take heart, fellow encouragers! I believe it’s time for us to step up and share this gift we’ve been given without being timid or intimidated. Without apologizing or feeling self-conscious.
An unapologetic encourager. That’s what I want to be.
Will you join me?
We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. How can you see yourself doing that for the people around you? Leave a comment to share an idea and encourage others who stop by.
Be blessed today, my friends!