Encouragement is something we all crave, whether we like to admit it or not, but for some reason we’re not great at giving these cherished words to others. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was trying to encourage you, but ended up just butchering it and discouraging you further? I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of awful encouragement. Because I’ve come to recognize this in myself, I’m working to be a person who gives and receives encouragement well.
I personally believe that Jesus-followers should be some of the best encouragers in the world because that’s what Jesus was. He saw something in his followers that they couldn’t see themselves and worked to pull that out of them. Whether that meant putting up with Peter’s mouth because he saw a leader, dealing with James and John’s brotherly squabbles because they were going to build the church, or patiently enduring through Thomas’ doubt because he knew he was capable of great faith.
How can we become the best in the world at encouraging others?
There’s a character in the Bible named Barnabas, who could be classified as a minor character, but he was immensely valuable to the apostles. Acts 4 describes the followers’ practice of bringing their excess together and distributing it to the poor. Verse 36 is the first mention of this incredible man, Barnabas:
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Barnabas wasn’t playing around when it came to following the Lord. He sold a field and brought the money to the apostles as part of his worship, but his extravagant giving isn’t what I want to focus on. His given name was Joseph, but that name didn’t fit his character so they gave him a more apt one: Barnabas. This man was so encouraging that it became part of his name!
Barnabus went on to travel around the world with Paul as he planted churches. What a dynamic duo! Paul was this controversial, straight-forward, brilliant teacher, and he travelled with arguably the most encouraging man in the entire Bible. I wonder how many times Paul wanted to throw in the towel, but the encouragement of Barnabas gave Paul the push he needed to continue in the face of immense adversity.
Who can you cause courage in?
Encourage can mean “to cause courage”. It’s easy to cause people to fear or be insecure or inactive, but how often do we cause courage in ourselves and others? What would it look like for you to see a positive trait in someone, maybe something they don’t seen in themselves, and inspire them to be courageous with that gift? If you see that someone is a skilled creative, encourage them in that. If their kindness overwhelms you, let them know. If you know someone who has great ideas and is full of wisdom, why not share that with them?
Let’s keep our eyes open for people we can inspire to be courageous this week. I believe that you have the capabilities of being a great encourager to the people in your life.