The Gift of Encouragement
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."1
Michael Josephson of Character Counts says that "Mark Gibson, a former gymnastics coach, tells a wonderful story about a 15-year-old girl I'll call Cindy. When Mark coached at a gym where several world-class gymnasts worked out, he said Cindy was the most important person in the gym. Cindy wasn't the best athleteŚnot even close. But when she was in the gym, everyone whined and complained less, worked harder and achieved more. She brought out the best in everyone. You see, Cindy was blind.
"When it was her turn to do the vault, her mother would run alongside her, saying, 'We're getting close, we're closer,' and when her mom said, 'Vault!' Cindy, with complete trust in her mother and herself, would jump. It was awesome.
"Neither Cindy nor her mother allowed her sightlessness to confine her, so they soared like eagles for all to see. Cindy led in the most powerful way possible, not by fancy rhetoric but by example. All who watched her strive to be the best she could be realized how much more there is within themselves."2
Cindy's mother was a great encourager to her daughter. As Christians, that's what you and I need to do for others.
The word "encourage" comes from "en," meaning "in," and "courage" meaning to "fortify one's inner strength in fearful situations." In other words, an encourager is one who puts courage into another or who puts inner strength into others when they are afraid or needing a helping hand.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for all the people in my life who have encouraged me along the wayŚwho have helped spur me on when I was feeling insecure, fearful, and afraid of failure. They were 'as Jesus' to me. Help me to be sensitive to the needs of fellow strugglers and be 'as Jesus' to them, and be a true encourager in their time of need. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV).
2. Michael Josephson of Character Counts www.charactercounts.org