A spiritual exercise I did recently prompted by Margaret Silf’s book, “Taste and See” encouraged me to imagine my life as a store topped by a living area. What product or service would my store offer?
On reflection, I decided my store would offer encouragement, bottled in pretty glass jars tied with coloured ribbons. Different sized and shaped bottles of encouragement would be displayed in the store window.
Of course, encouragement doesn’t last. It is like a bottle of sweets, enjoyed for the moment but gone by tomorrow.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
That’s all very well, but I want something more concrete. How do I encourage others? I think it starts with my attitude towards others. If I accept others just as they are, if I care about them as individuals and see each as God’s unrepeatable masterpiece, I already create an atmosphere of encouragement.
Then it is concentrating on the good in people, regarding them as competent and trustworthy, and not focusing on their faults and failings. It is a word of appreciation or applause for something done. It is enthusiasm for what they love or are called to do. It is sincere words of support or agreement. It includes offering an apt word of scripture according to the circumstances.
To encourage means to imbue with courage. The Oxford dictionary defines it as to give someone support, courage or hope.
Father God, please give me eyes to see others as You see them and to accept them as they are. Give me ears to listen and understand so I may enter into their struggles, joys and sorrows. Give me a tongue to be able to communicate the hope I have in You, the faith that You are good and that You have everything under control. Amen.