Monday, December 30, 2013

The Impact of Encouragement

     Have you considered the impact your encouraging words can make on others? Throughout my life, encouragement from others has changed the way I look at situations, picked me up when I felt low, helped me try new things, and pushed me to reach for my dreams.

     When I was pretty young, about eight or nine, our music leader in Sunday school told me I had a pretty singing voice. She also told me that when I got older, I should join our choir. I'll never forget that because she is the first person I remember telling me I could sing well.

    Your encouraging words can open others' eyes to something they've never considered before. You may be the first person to ever tell them they can do that particular thing, and the simple words, "You do that well," are often enough to give them the desire to try.

     When I was about fourteen, I emailed one of my uncles part of the fantasy book I was writing - he was one of the first people I got the courage to show it to. Looking back now I know how horrible it was, yet he was very encouraging. He pointed out things he said he liked, gave suggestions, and asked a lot of questions about consistency. He could've crushed me had he been too harsh, or he could've disillusioned me had he simply told me it was great. Instead, he took the time to explain what didn't exactly work and give me ideas, while at the same time praising my efforts.

    Never underestimate the time you invest in giving encouragement and honest critique/opinion. You should be careful to balance your words of praise and words of critique, but always be honest. Tell them what you think, while at the same time being an encouragement. You can help them improve and show them things they might not have seen that way before.

    When I was sixteen Grace Pennington said, “You're becoming quite the poet! You must put them into a book or something. I'd buy it.” I had been thinking about self publishing "someday", but her words spurred me into action. Why did her words mean so much? Because she had showed me multiple times before that she cared about me, and that she wanted me to succeed. She believed in me, and that knowledge gave me the push to chase my dream.

     As a friend, you can be a powerful encouragement. Learn about what excites them, guard what they tell you, be honest, watch what you say, remember they are different from you, be someone trustworthy - be the kind of friend to them that you'd want. Encourage them to do what they long to, and let them know the good you see. At any age the knowledge that someone you trust believes in you is a powerful thing - I know.

Though I don't have a specific story I'd like to share for this point, I consider it important to mention anyway. People have made a big difference in my life and helped me by doing this simple thing: Listening. Stop talking, or typing, or saying everything you think others need to hear. Just shush for a moment. Let them know they have your attention. You can say all the "right" words and it won't mean anything if you've blown off what they've been trying to say to you. We all want to know that when we speak, others are listening - really listening. Sometimes all we need to do to be an encouragement is to show that we care enough to be quiet and listen to what others have to say.

     I want to point out the good I see in others and encourage them to share what they love. I want to listen and care, even when I'm not sure what to say. I want to be someone who takes the time to make a difference in the lives of those around me. I want to pass on the blessing that I was given.

Will you seek to do the same for those in your life? When sharing the love of God - every minute is worth it. 

~Ophelia - Marie

A good post on encouragement:
 Kindred Grace: Give Courage

(I love this song. )

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