What is a distinguishing relational quality that can add value in any context? Encouragement.
Encouragement is a powerful personality trait. Whether inherent or learned, encouragement is the ability to inspire and build people through positive attitudes, words, and actions. It is a change catalyst that is transformative and has a positive effect on the producer and recipient.
A classic Bible example of encouragement is Barnabas, the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36; 11:24). The apostle Paul also wrote about this relational principle (1 Thess. 5:11, NIV).
Encouraging words and actions create an atmosphere of life, hope, courage, and truth. The Holy Spirit can use an encourager to reflect Christ and give glory to God.
Relationship researcher John Gottman suggests that in healthy relationships there should be at least five positive interactions for each negative one. That’s a five-to-one-ratio goal of being encouraging over being discouraging.
Some years ago an evening service was interrupted in a large church on the West Coast. An unkempt homeless man walked into the packed church. None of the ushers greeted or assisted him, and nobody made space for him as he walked down the aisle.
Getting to the front of the church, he awkwardly sat down on the floor, cross-legged, right in the middle of the aisle. At just that moment, a deacon walked from the back and sat on the floor beside the man!
Wow! That man was a “Barnabas type” who created an encouragement moment (EM). In a group of 500-plus people, he was one encourager who made all the difference in the life of a man who eventually became a believer.
At this time of social divisiveness, the challenge is to be a kind, intentional encourager. How is that possible? Here are five simple tips on how to be AWAKE and create EMs. Be . . .
Actively Alert: Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to uplift those in your environment.
Winsomely Warm: Sometimes words and acts aren’t appropriate. Just your empathetic presence and prayers can create a healing atmosphere.
Attentively Agile: Whenever you intentionally demonstrate a genuine loving concern for people, they will be keenly aware of your goodness, and it will mitigate against discouragement and negativism.
Knowledgeably Kind: The most effective encouragers are learning, listening leaders. They sensitively seek to understand how to create good and develop solutions.
Enthusiastically Empathetic: Encouragers (1) see people and situations as storehouses of potential because they discern what they can be and how far they can go, and (2) know circumstances and conditions are changeable with encouragement. You can transform any environment by being humble, authentic, and committed to being AWAKE to act on any encouragement opportunities around you.