Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Living Joyfully-Encouragement Goes a Long Way Part III

 Last week we discussed practical ways to encourage your family.Today, let me offer some practical suggestions for encouraging those outside your immediate family.

Everyone NEEDS to be encouraged. Life can be difficult, and there seems to be too many rough patches along the way. Even if someone acts like they don't care, they do. Try to encourage someone every single day. Pray for wisdom for what to say or do that will bring the most encouragement. 

Practical Ways to Encourage: 
  • Be Positive. Point out the positive traits in other people. Try to be specific. Instead of "You're really nice," say something to the effect of "You are such a thoughtful person. It is so kind when you _______."
  • Thank People for their Influence. I have many friends who are absolute joys to know. I try to make it a point of thanking them for being such a blessing (again, being specific), when they cross my mind. Sometimes I email them, send a card, or call them. One recent example of an email I sent: "Thank you so much for being an example of Jesus' love to everyone you meet. You are so joyful even in tough times. I am very blessed to know you. Thank you for giving me perspective about what really matters."
  • Don't Give Unsolicited Advice. This is so hard, especially when you think you can offer helpful advice. But, one of the most discouraging things you can do is offer well-meaning words of advice when you haven't been asked. People can misinterpret the advice for subtle jabs. This is especially important when encouraging other parents. Never say "but." As in "you're doing a great job, but". That one word discounts any other encouragement you may have given or plan to give.
  • Pray for Them. Do you know someone who is struggling? Pray for them. Prayer is the most powerful encouragement tool there is. God created each of us, and knows each of us better than we know ourselves. So, He is the best source of encouragement there is.

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