Nora, age three, was running up the walkway. I said, “You are such a fast runner.” What did she do? What most kids would do–run faster. Encouragement is needed for every member of the human race. “En-courage” comes from two root words, “en” meaning “in, and “cor,” Latin for “heart.” Positive words give us heart, make us want to try harder. Negative words dis-hearten us, they take away courage, and make it hard for us to keep going.
Had I said to Nora, “You are sure a slow runner,” it would have slowed her down. Instead of a lift, a heavy word. Can you wonder why some kids barely make it–or don’t? They are fired away at with one discouraging word after another. They can barely keep their head above water. Some never recover and come into a true identity that allows them to walk into their destiny. Really sad.
Some older people are tough enough to take your word and prove you wrong. Most will receive it as a word on target and prove you right. No wonder that Solomon said, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” We hold the power to put courage in people or take it out–with our mouth.
Negative comments, even those meant to instruct or correct, take courage out of most of us. A coach told me that when he taught girls’ tennis at a local high school he tried encouraging the gals when they did well and offer advice when they did poorly. It didn’t work. He finally gave up trying to correct them.They found correction hard to receive. He discovered that it was far more beneficial to ALWAYS encourage.
What if you decided to encourage people wherever you went, and you told the boy pushing the carts that he was really doing a great job, and he decided to do it even better. You just changed his day–and maybe his life. What if you let your teacher know that he/she is really good at teaching and that you are learning so much. That person just got better. What if you shared with your pastor that you are strengthened by his Biblical and Christ-honoring messages, and he just improved his teaching.
What if you told your children how fortunate you were to have children that are obedient and bring much joy to their parents. You just increased their joy and their obedience. What if you decided to be an expert at encouragement, and you did it regularly at work, and it changed the atmosphere. You have the power to do that.
Scripture tells us encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today. I think it is still “today.” Is there a mail carrier, a sibling, a parent, a child, a co-worker who is waiting for you to make his or her day?
Flattery is not the same as encouragement. Flattery is given to gain some kind of access. It is self-directed. Encouragement is other-directed and contains no manipulation or control. The more a person encourages others, the more it shows a healthy and humble love for others.
One of the most important assignments of parents is to encourage their children–to put courage into them that they can do it, they can succeed, they can make their mark, they can walk with God, they can be used by Him. Correction is important, but nowhere near as needful as encouragement.
Karen and I work with so many who did not receive enough. They don’t know who they are, and they struggle in life. Many of their parents were too taken up with their own issues to pour life into their children, and young adults wonder if they have what it takes. Children needs tons of encouragement. Don’t become a parent unless you are prepared to speak life into your children–all their life!!