How are we to encourage others? This was something I personally experienced as people have ministered to me. It was so important when I trusted Christ to be my Savior at the age of 17. Without the support of my family, how was I to live obediently as a new believer? I knew so little of God’s Word in finding the direction I needed.
The first people to be an encouragement to me as a new believer were my aunt and uncle. They, like David in 1 Samuel 30:6, daily encouraged themselves “in the Lord.” By giving me direction in knowing what passages of Scripture I should read and study, they motivated me to press on! Without preaching, they patiently encouraged me in my new life with their prayers, phone calls, letters and visits.
That same year God gave me a roommate that was a great encourager – and I doubt she even realized it! Her cheerful heart was like medicine to my soul! Isn’t that what encouragement feels like sometimes – medicine (Prov. 25:11)! Her outlook on life was unselfish, positive and refreshing! “Watching” her as a roommate showed me I truly did have so many reasons to laugh and enjoy life as a believer! Charles Swindoll has said,
“The longer I live, the more convinced I become the most ‘magnetic’ quality of the Christian is not faith or love, but joy! Faith and love are seen afterwards.”Charles Swindoll
A few years later God gave me another encourager who was willing to confront me. I loved the idea of being motivated and refreshed, but I wasn’t sure if confrontation should be in the picture! I soon learned that she loved me and wanted to walk with me through this time of my wavering heart. As she prayed for me and with me, I recognized her perception and sensitivity to the Lord. I was at a crossroads of either going my own way or seeking God “in the way I should go.” Her love and insight were a picture of some of the best encouragement I needed. I wanted the sensitivity to the Lord that I saw in her life. It was time for repentance – a time for change!
Finally, what an encouragement it has been to share my heart with a friend who doesn’t interrupt. A good listener is often what I have needed. “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” Proverbs 18:13. I smile at how few words she often says. She believes in the “God of hope, filling us with all joy and peace in believing so that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13. My “load” is lifted as she reminds me of this truth and prays for me.
How We Encourage Others
The dictionary gives many definitions and synonyms for the word ‘encourage.’ Some of them are: support, give confidence, hope, cheer, inspire, reassure, motivate, inspire, comfort and giving approval. In many ways, the five encouragers I learned from are doing this in my life. God’s Word speaks of the gift of exhortation or encouragement in Romans 12:6-8. But we have all been instructed to “encourage one another day after day…” Hebrews 3:13; 10:25.
1 | Encourage Them in Their Relationship With the Lord
“Encouraging ourselves in the Lord” is the first priority for an encourager. Without knowing what the Word says, my encouragement is shallow and only my opinion. True encouragement is grounded in what God says and dependent on God. This is where prayer also needs to be key in my relationship with God. As I prayerfully depend on Him in my personal life, I am able to encourage others to make obedient and godly choices by praying for them and with them.
2 | Encourage Them With Joy
People who are gloomy a large percentage of time are probably not the ones who are sought after for encouragement. “The joy of the Lord” was my first roommate’s strength and focus which drew me to her. Having a refreshing spirit of trusting God is an example lived out that is hard to miss! Is my attention fixed on myself or the blessings of God and a love for others? It will show!
3 | Encourage Them Through Confrontation
This could be considered the ‘least favorite’ part of encouraging, yet the most helpful. When lovingly confronted, a person can be motivated and inspired to diligently pursue Christ. Confrontation puts you at a crossroads of doing something about what has been brought to your attention! Knowing my friend was sensitive to the Lord, her counsel and confrontation were spoken in truth. There is a seriousness in hearing truth in this way, usually involving surrender or repentance.
4 | Encourage Them by Listening
Listening can be a discipline for an encourager, especially when you have a desire to quickly “uplift” the person you are talking to! Yet, Scripture tells us to be “quick to hear and slow to speak” not only in responding in anger (James 1:19) but in understanding the matters going on in a person’s life (Proverbs 18:13). Listening is also a time to pray, asking God for wisdom as a person shares about their life and the circumstances they are facing.
Ultimately, encouragement is to bring focus and glory to God
These are just four of the ways I have learned to encourage others. The examples in my life have been my “teacher.” It is a reminder to me that my life is also being “read” by others (2 Corinthians 3:2). “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 6:16. Ultimately, encouragement is to bring focus and glory to God. He, through the Holy Spirit ministers to our heart, sometimes through the life of an encourager!
About the Author:
Carla Gray has enjoyed being the Assistant Dean of Women for 10 years. Before marrying her husband Bob, she served with Word of Life in Australia for three years. Together they have been with Word of Life since getting married 38 years ago. Their lives have been blessed with 3 daughters and their husbands and 4 grandsons with another grandson on the way in November!