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Encouragement 101 Part 2 - Girlfriends in God - Mar. 27, 2013

March 27, 2013

Encouragement 101

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints”(Philemon 1:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Every day we cross paths with hurting people. A word of encouragement, an act of kindness, a caring smile may be enough to keep them on their feet. We want to be encouragers but may not know where to start. In yesterday’s devotion, we examined three ways to encourage others by learning to listen, comforting with our words and getting involved. Today, we will explore more ways you and I can practice encouragement and build each other up in everyday life.

Demonstrate Great Patience

“Encourage them with great patience” (2 Timothy 4:2 ncv). Encouragement takes persistence. Persistence takes patience. Just because you have encouraged someone once does not mean that your role of encouragement in their life is over. They did not become discouraged overnight, and they will not often become encouraged overnight.

Dan first began making wooden furniture a few years ago. My job was to stain and finish the pieces after he had completed them. I had never worked with wood or stain and did not know much about how to accomplish the task. But I knew who did. I headed to our local hardware store. I explained to a salesclerk that I wanted to finish some furniture—today. I was in a hurry to place it in just the right spot in the house and wanted to get this staining business over with quickly. He smiled and patiently explained that it takes time to achieve the best finish. He obviously did not understand my timetable, so I tried to explain again. Ignoring my words, he said that a beautiful finish requires repeated layers of stain and lacquer with time to dry in between. There are no short- cuts if you want the final product to be right.

Encouragement is like that. It takes layers of love and great patience to replenish, restore, and put courage back into a heart. Patience is an important part of encouragement.

Offer Sensitive Instruction

Second Timothy 4:2 also says that we are to encourage others with careful instruction, being sensitive to the condition of the learner, to the one who is in need of encouragement. Learning does not begin with the truth. Learning begins with the learner and requires loving flexibility. Instruction that is wrapped with encouragement really works.

When Danna first played softball, her coaches were her dad and Garland Robertson, our youth pastor. Jered was an assistant coach. At one of their practices, one girl was having trouble hitting the ball. Garland was pitching—and that may have been the problem. Dan was giving her instructions—and that may have been the problem. For whatever reason, she was not hitting the ball. Finally, Jered pulled her aside and worked with her for 30 minutes. He was gentle and gave suggestions with great sensitivity. All of a sudden, the girl who was missing every pitch hit five in a row.

Instruction that is wrapped with encouragement really works. No one cares how much you know until they know just how much you care. I have heard it said that advice and instruction are like snow. The softer they fall—the deeper they stick. Sensitive instruction is encouragement.

Stay Close

It is encouraging to know that we are not alone, that someone else is close by, in the rocking boat with us. Remember that one of the definitions of encouragement is “to be beside.” Sometimes the best way to encourage someone is to stay close by. Join them in what they are doing. A shared joy is a double joy, but a shared sorrow is half a sorrow. God has given us to each other so that we can share the load. A shared load is always a lighter load. The words of Ecclesiastes 4:12 give us a wonderful promise: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

I read about an ingenious teenager who grew tired of reading bedtime stories to his little sister. So he decided to record several of her favorite stories on tape. He gave her a tape player and plugged in the tape. “Now you can hear your stories anytime you want. Isn’t that great?” he said. She looked at the machine for a moment and then replied, “No. It hasn’t got a lap.”

Encouragers look for opportunities to work. We all need a lap. We all need the closeness of relationship. We all need to know we are loved. We all need encouragement. Together we will find the encouragement that we need. Staying close to those who need you brings them encouragement.

Practice Encouragement Daily

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13). An encourager is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been, accepts who you’ve become, and still gently invites you to grow. How often do we need to practice encouragement? Daily. Continually. Constantly.

The key to constant and daily encouragement is to vary our forms of encouragement and whom we encourage. Encouragers look for opportunities to work. Acts 4:36 tells us about a man who came to Christ and his life was changed so dramatically that he sold his land and brought the money to give to God through the early church. That is very impressive. But the most impressive thing about this man called Joseph is that the disciples changed his name. They called him Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.”

Are you an encourager? Would your friends suggest changing your name? Would your spouse or your children? What about your neighbors or that person in your life who is struggling to find a ray of light in their darkness?

The message is clear. Just as Christ has come into our lives to encourage us, we are to give that encouragement away. The most amazing truth is that the more encouragement we give, the more we will receive in the circle of encouragement.

Jesus promises, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38 nlt).

When Danna was a little girl, one of her favorite things to do was to color in one particular art book. It had several pages that were special. I remember one in particular that had a picture of a butterfly. When I looked at it, I couldn’t understand her excitement because it was a dull gray. When I asked her why she liked it so much, she said, “Watch, Mommy.” She rubbed her little hands together until they were warm and then laid her hand on the butterfly. The warm touch of her hand caused the special inks in the picture to react and the dull gray was transformed into a stunning rainbow of color.

This cold and dark world is hungry for the touch of someone who cares, for a word of kindness, for an act of compassion. This world—your world—is reaching out to you for encouragement.

Let’s be encouragers.

Let’s Pray

1.    If you need encouragement, think of two people with whom you can share that need and make a plan to do so.

2.    Look for people in your life to encourage.

3.    In your journal, record a recent time when you received and/or gave encouragement. What were the results?

4.    Write a note of encouragement to someone in need, letting them know you are praying for them. Offer to take care of a specific need such as preparing a meal, dropping by the grocery store to pick up a few items or picking up their cleaning. Many times, people in pain can’t or won’t ask for help. If you see a need, meet it.

5.    Write a note of thanks to someone who has encouraged you.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read and memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:11. 14.  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…and we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

How do you rate as an encourager? Which of the following areas do you need to work on in order to give encouragement to the people in your life who need it?

___Demonstrate great patience

___Offer sensitive instruction

___Stay close

___Practice encouragement daily

More from the Girlfriends

Encouragement is like a boomerang. When thrown correctly, it will come back to you. Godly encouragement does not wait for an invitation to work. It looks for the opportunity to work. Need help? Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, I Need a Friend.

Nope! It is not too late to join Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. When you join, you have access to all of the 2013 lessons. The current study is Power Up With Proverbs.And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email

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