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FIRST-PERSON: Praise of encouragers

O’FALLON, Ill. (BP) — Encouragement is one of the most beautiful gifts we can receive. A kind word, a helping hand, a warm smile, an appreciative hug — these things are the currency of encouragement. And this currency is never devalued.

I officiated the funeral of a great encourager recently. In more than 20 years of being his pastor he encouraged me countless times without a single hint of discouragement. Amazing.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that wonderful gift. In a day when snark is considered normal, when complaint is common, what a gift encouragement is.

Let me suggest some ways to encourage others — your pastor, small group teacher, co-workers, classmates, friends and acquaintances.

1. Love. Love others. Love your friends. Love your enemies. Love the people in your church. Love the little kid who goofs off. (He may well grow up to be your pastor!) Love the guy who sees things differently. But love. By all means love. Love like Jesus loves.

2. Think of others. Consider their feelings and what they are going through. As best you can, put yourself in their shoes. Empathize with their problems. Care about them as people. Listen to them and ask them questions. Consider ways to help them.

3. Be thankful. Encouragers are people who are grateful for their blessings. They have problems too. But they see their problems through the lens of thankfulness. They appreciate what others do and who they are. They verbalize and personalize that thankful spirit.

Maybe encouragement doesn’t come easily for you. Ask the Lord to make you an encourager. Ask Him to help change your heart. Ask Him to teach you the depths of love, the power of empathy and the benefit of thankfulness.

We need you to be an encourager in the church, at work, at school and in your home. And you might just find how much you will like giving this priceless gift.

    About the Author

  • Doug Munton