As a young minister’s wife, I learned early on that part of my unwritten job description included “encourager.” And my husband’s first church handed me the unspoken title of “leader” before I ever turned 20.

But there are times when the encourager needs encouragement. Occasionally, all of us experience times when depression or discouragement creeps in unannounced.

Is a writing deadline crushing you? Has new technology left you behind? Are you struggling to maintain your responsibilities at work or at home because of increased pressures? Is your energy level running on empty? What do you do when you’re the leader, the teacher, the parent, the grandparent, the friend or the spouse–and you can’t seem to find the motivation or energy to encourage those under your care?  Where do you find encouragement for yourself?

Through the years, I’ve learned to find strength and encouragement in several ways. If you’re the encourager, and you find yourself in need of encouragement, here are three simple ways that might help you, too:

1. Encourage Yourself in the Lord

How do you do that? I’m not referring to self-talk, but to “God-speak.” 1 Samuel 30 describes this secret practice that the Psalmist David obviously learned while he was just a shepherd boy, composing songs on his harp. David later encouraged King Saul with music, trying to soothe the king’s depression when he called for David.

But Saul’s depressive moods often turned into jealous rage. Even while fighting Saul’s enemies as the king’s servant, David ended up running for his own life from Saul’s spear.

David, the Encourager, Needed Encouragement

One day David returned home from a battle to find that another enemy, the Amalekites, had raided his town and kidnapped all the women and children, including his own loved ones. David and his men wept so much, they had no tears left. Grief can do strange things to people’s hearts. David’s men turned on him, blaming him as their leader for the tragedy.

1 Samuel 1:6 (KJV) describes what David did next: “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Another translation says that David found strength in the Lord. It was obviously a practice David knew well.\

Identifying with David’s laments and struggles in the Psalms, I discovered this principle as a young mother. Following the birth of our first baby, I experienced a severe case of post-partum depression, brought on by sheer emotional and physical exhaustion. It only lasted 7 weeks, but to me it seemed like an eternity. I remember some days I felt like I was hanging by a thread.  But in between the needs of a new baby and a husband in seminary, I grabbed moments alone with the Lord and read the psalms repeatedly, clinging to those powerful words like a lifeline. I believe those moments of hearing God speak to me were the key that brought the healing and encouragement I needed.

2. Rest and Recharge.

That’s right. Get away if necessary, but allow your body to catch up physically. If you haven’t had a physical check-up in a while, it wouldn’t hurt to schedule one. When our bodies are run down, our emotions and even our spiritual focus may suffer. No one expects you to give beyond what you are able. Saying yes to too many activities or responsibilities can leave your body and spirit in dire need of recharging.

Both your productivity and relationships will suffer if you can’t handle stress well. You may even need to delegate some responsibilities to another family member or co-worker. Just like a car, you can’t run on empty very long and get very far.