I would say that the majority of us often feel more like a failure than a success. We’re hard on ourselves when we don’t measure up. Comparison and insecurity splinter our confidence as we scroll through our social media newsfeeds. Our culture hides in wait to highlight the next appalling or laughable flop and failure. In our relationships, criticism is masked as sarcasm or jokes, and we laugh it off, but there are wounds being created in both of us.
The only remedy is encouragement. (To inspire courage or hope in others)
Hebrews 3:13 defines the optimal times for offering encouragement.
But encourage one another daily as long as it’s called “Today”...
That’s pretty often! When we want to be critical or negative, we should find it within us to encourage. I believe three great things happen when we do this.
We silence the negative voices
Back in the day the only posts on a wall we had to worry about were the ones in the bathroom stalls. The only people that read those comments were folks who went in that stall before we could erase or mark it out. Today everyone has a platform with an audience of 100’s, 1,000’s, or even 1,000,000’s thanks to social media and we give them the ability to offer their opinion. If they don’t offer one we might create one for them in our minds. Those opinions matter more to us than they should.
If it’s not the voices of social media, then it’s the echoes of voices from the past. A driven father, perfectionist mother, unimpressed coach, and old selfish friends can continue to whisper discouragement long after the relationship has ended.
When we encourage each other we combat all those negative voices and give us better things to think about.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to “FIX OUR THOUGHTS on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.”
When we “fix” something onto something, it’s like hanging a picture on a wall. The nail is what it is holding the picture up. The thoughts that we hang on are what hold us up or let us down.
Let’s hold each other up with our words, not let each other down
We draw out the potential in others
Psychology has discovered over the years that it takes roughly 7 encouraging statements to compensate for ONE negative statement. Harvard Business Review performed a study where they found that the highest performing organizations averaged 6 encouraging statements for every 1 discouraging statements. The lowest performing organizations averaged 3 NEGATIVE statements for every ONE encouraging statements. Between work, home, and friends, honestly, most of us probably live in a deficit when it comes to this.
When we encourage each other we “DRAW” out our potential.
I like using the phrase “DRAW OUT”. It makes me think of someone drawing water out of well with a bucket and rope. They have to go beyond the hard surface, reach way down and draw out something that can’t be seen from the surface.
When we encourage each other, we bring out the hidden best in each other’s abilities, ideas, and actions.
Notice someone succeeding and encourage them to keep moving forward. Recognize someone’s potential, speak to it, and watch it grow.
It gives meaning to our hardships and hope in theirs
We all experience hardships. Some things seem so unbearable, we wonder if we will ever make it through. But we do. Sometimes it takes only a few days. Other times it takes years. We gain experience and wisdom along the way that can be shared with someone on a similar journey.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 puts it this way…
“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
When we encourage someone going through a similar hardship that we’ve faced, we are able to offer specific insight, wisdom, and direction. That divorce, sickness, loss of a job or loved one, the troubled childhood, abusive relationship, or addiction, all leave scars that can encourage others. Share your fears, your doubts, and your successes. The fact that we’ve made it can be evidence for a hope that they’ll make it too.
Don’t’ be afraid to share your experiences with others. You never know the impact that it could have on them and you.
If we think about the people that have had the greatest impact in our life, they not only offered constructive feedback but also tons of encouragement. The crazy thing about encouragement is it costs absolutely nothing. But, when invested, it brings about greater returns in the giver and the receiver.