The Witness of Encouragement

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing... comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

-1 Thessalonians 5:11,14

As brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus it is part of our calling to come alongside one another to lift each other up. In the down times, our words can bring comfort one another; when we are struggling to reach our goals, an encouraging word can give that extra little bit of motivation we need to keep going; when we feel useless, hopeless, or helpless, an encouraging word can enliven us again.

I believe encouragement, or the lack of encouragement, is one of the most powerful influences affecting a person's life. A spouse who encourages may be the driving force that allows the other person in the couple to achieve great things. On the other hand, a spouse who does not encourage is quite possibly the most destructive force affecting the other person's ability to achieve their ambitions. The same is true of the relationships between friends, between parents and their children, and between employees and employers.

Encouragement is intentional. It requires that a person who can offer encouragement actually cares enough to do it, and then is willing to take a few precious minutes out of their lives to find out another person's needs and offer them encouragement.

Our willingness to care enough to offer encouragement, and then to actually do the work of encouraging, can be one of the most profound ways in which the doors of opportunity may be thrown open.

People always seem to wonder how best to begin a conversation with someone about the Lord, or how they can best take the first step in approaching someone with the Gospel. A great way to begin is not to begin a conversation about the Lord or to begin preaching the Gospel at them! A great way to begin is to build a relationship with the other person first.

Let the people in your life see that you care about them. Talk to them about what matters to them. Find out what moves them. Offer them a positive word of encouragement. And then, after you have actually come to know the other person and the things that matter to them, you will have earned the opportunity to begin to apply the Word of God to the things you have already discussed.

One of the keys to reaching our world is intentionally building one-on-one personal relationships with the people we wish to reach. It is one of the core concepts in my soon to be released book, Salt on Fire, and it is a key idea I write about often here as well. The reason for that is that it works.

People are social. We need one another and we need care and encouragement from one another. It does not mean that we go and become best friends with the people we want to reach. It simply means that we take the time to get to know our peers, to demonstrate that we care about them, and to provide a safe environment in which they can ask questions and explore the Way of Salvation for themselves. It is essentially mentorship.

To be an encourager is to faithfully fulfill one of the ministries we have to each other and to the world.

So rather than sitting around trying to come up with catchy new ways to start a conversation about Jesus, let's focus first on the needs people have and building real relationships with them with positive words of encouragement.

Quotation above from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.


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